It's a circus in a small theater instead of a big top.
The annual Summer Circus Spectacular, which opens its six-week run on Tuesday, offers world-class circus acts in the intimate surroundings of the Historic Asolo Theater, instead of the cavernous arenas and tents of many circuses.
The Summer Circus Spectacular, now in its eighth year, is a partnership between The Ringling and the Circus Arts Conservatory of Sarasota. It's a European-style one-ring circus with five acts.
This year's lineup includes Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey clown Chris "Bucky" Allison, hand-balancer Christian Stoinev (who works with a Chihuahua named Scooby), quick-change artists Olga and Vladimir Smirnov and juggler Vladimir Kim.
They're all well-known acts in the circus world, but probably the most famous of all is Sarasota's own Dolly Jacobs, the "Queen of the Air" and one of the founders of the Circus Arts Conservatory.
This year's Summer Circus Spectacular marks the professional debut of Bailey Sloan, a 16-year-old ringmistress who trained with the Sarasota Sailor Circus, the youth theater branch of the Circus Arts Conservatory.
Besides offering quality-acts in a distinctive setting, the spectacular aims to appeal to families, so ticket prices are low and show times are early in the day.
Details: June 17-Aug. 2, Historic Asolo Theater, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. Show times: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets: $15 adults, $12 children age 12 and younger. Information: 941-360-7399, ringling.org.
-- Marty Clear