Venardos Circus to bring magic-filled show to Hamlin

Kevin Venardos and friends are bringing the Venardos Circus — complete with aerialists, jugglers, magicians and many more — to Winter Garden in November.

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  • | 2:42 p.m. November 2, 2018
Kevin Venardos is the ringmaster, as well as one of the masterminds behind the circus. (Courtesy Venardos Circus and Jeff Nelson Photography)
Kevin Venardos is the ringmaster, as well as one of the masterminds behind the circus. (Courtesy Venardos Circus and Jeff Nelson Photography)
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When Kevin Venardos landed a job as ringmaster for the Ringling Bros Circus at age 22, he had no prior circus experience — he was just a guy who liked to sing and dance.

But his new gig led to a series of experiences both on that show and others around the country, and it also led him to realize his passion for the circus and the artistry behind it. Now, he is the ringmaster of his own show, the Venardos Circus.



After many years spent working with different shows, Venardos and his friends set out to build their own show from the ground up. This led to the birth of the Venardos Circus five years ago. 

“We turned it (into a show) from a fair attraction in the beginning, and that’s how we were selling it,” Venardos said. “With time I started to go and fulfill my real dream. Now more and more as I’m bringing on artists and their families, we’re also helping to bring communities together and build traditions. It’s something that is traditional — it’s got hundreds of years of age, the notion of the circus — but we’re reinventing it for the world today and an audience we’re delighted we’re finding.”

The Venardos Circus is more intimate than circuses of childhoods past — it’s in a tent but seats only 350 people. A raised stage sits in the center, and Venardos said it makes you feel as if you’re right next to the action.

“It’s intimate, it’s theatrical…my love of Broadway, where it all began, is the anchor point the whole show is hung on,” he said. “We have aerialists, acrobats, magic, fire, juggling, balancing, all of the wonder and magic you'd hope for in the circus but with a Broadway twist.”

Venardos’ circus also is unique in that the show does not include animals. In fact, attendees are awestruck to find that the whole two-and-one-half hour production and 40-week tour is put on by just 15 people.

“It certainly did not come about because of a desire to make a political statement,” Venardos said of his decision to not include animal acts. “I love people who care for animals and have had the great fortune of working with absolutely astonishing animal caretakers and trainers — however, I’m also a big believer that you can have an amazing show where you don't need animals.”

As for the circus experience, Venardos describes it as a combination between a Broadway show and a circus. The elements of production, talented acts and characters weave together to form “the little circus that could.”

The circus has its own, custom-made tent. Inside is room for 350 people. (Courtesy Venardos Circus and Jeff Nelson Photography)
The circus has its own, custom-made tent. Inside is room for 350 people. (Courtesy Venardos Circus and Jeff Nelson Photography)

“Four years ago this was an idea, and in that time since we have transformed from a single fair date at the LA County Fair to a 40-week national tour,” he said. “That’s no small feat and has meant the faith and hard work of a lot of wonderful people. It’s extraordinary what a small group of people can do. That’s a pretty impactful thing. All the attendees are welcomed on stage to take photos with the cast after the show. I think the interaction gives them context for all these young and young-at-heart minds that here’s a real, living example that they could follow their dreams, too.”



As part of its 40-week tour, the Venardos Circus is bringing the magic of Broadway and the classic circus to Hamlin in mid November.

“We’re the little circus that could and we’re trying to find communities and venues that are growing just like us,” Venardos said. “We want to bring people out to the show. It’s one of the things the circus does — it brings people together. We’re definitely excited, as it’s our first time in the Orlando area. There’s so much that happens at the circus — the way the tent goes up, how we travel, what it’s like to live on the show and magically bringing people together as a result of that hard work.”

Guests will be “transported back in time to the center ring of a centuries-old tradition, but one that has been reinvented for the next generation,” according to the website. Doors open an hour before showtime with the interactive pre-show party, during which guests are encouraged to meet the cast, snap photos, play games and munch on classic circus snacks. The main event runs for approximately 90 minutes, with a brief intermission.

And for Venardos, the general notion that the circus is dead simply isn’t true.

“P.T. Barnum lived a long time ago and I find him fascinating and inspirational,” he said. “We remember him as this extraordinary figure and we think of the circus and think of him. But he didn't  invent the circus — what he did was reinvented it and found new ways and used new technology and fresh passion to invigorate the audience. There will always be a desire for magic and wonder as long as there are beating hearts in the world, and there will always be a circus. The market, technology, how we do business and the cost of it all evolves, and we’ve got to adapt and change with it.

“I invite people I believe in to come and bring their talents to what we do,” he said. “When there are dedicated people who are passionately pursuing something, there’s nothing that couldn't be done. …I’m more interested now in the people who have no idea about the circus than the ones who have been going their whole lives. I want to connect with new audiences and get them excited about this magic. For me it’s about having a wonderful time with people you love and even with people you haven't even met.”


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