Under a big top in St. Paul, the stories of Rapunzel and Cinderella come to life—in the air that is. It’s Grimm: Happily Ever After, the summer show of Circus Juventas and the students’ chance to showcase how they’ve followed their dreams: to the circus.
The show follows Jacob and Wilhem Grimm as they weave their way through fairy tales, book and quill in hand, showing us the trials and tribulations (and happy endings) of the people they meet. As the lights dim and enemies lurk about, dark and moody tales take up the first half of Grimm, showing perilous beginnings before happy endings. Yet even amid the doomsday atmosphere, hope and beauty shine bright through the actors’ performances: the swamp Little Red Riding Hood stumbles through is as beautiful as it is ominous, with swamp creatures swinging from ropes and twirling in harmony—wrapping themselves up then cascading back down.
The summer show is the Circus Juventas’s annual performance for the school’s elite. In Betty Butler’s Grimm-themed concept, only those students who proved themselves worthy to fly through the air or to bend in unimaginable ways (you should see the contortionists build the gingerbread house!) get the chance to perform.
Yet the show was not without its mishaps, and a few moments in the show remind you that these acrobats and tumblers are still students learning their art. Juggling pins fell to the ground and the net beneath the lauded trapeze act got quite a bit of action, but the grace and poise the young performers showed in the face of error deserves applause. The cast carried on the show with theatrical flair, winning over the audience with energy and comedy. Stand-out scenes included the adorable frog prince trying (unsuccessfully) to solicit kisses from girls in the audience and the crazy antics between the wolf and Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma.
Happy endings rolled out for the characters as well as the audience in the second half. High-fiving Grimm brothers coaxed the audience to chant “happily ever after” as Prince Charming kissed Snow White and as the glass slipper gracefully slid onto Cinderella’s foot, and as the lights came up, it was clear the show made for a happily-ever-after evening for everyone in attendance.
Grimm: Happily Ever After
Through Sunday, August 14
Times and prices vary, see schedule
Circus Juventas’ Big Top
1270 Montreal Ave., St. Paul