‘We’re not in Kansas anymore’

Two area students to take the stage in Circus Juventas production of ‘OZ’

mann, kali


We’ve all heard the phrase, “I’m running away with the circus” at least once in our lives. But two St. Croix Valley students have already done this for a few years.

Kali Mann of Marine on St. Croix and Stone Langworthy

of Bayport are performing in the upcoming Circus Juventas show,  “OZ” in St. Paul. Mann and Langworthy have performed in shows with Circus Juventas for four years although their acts are very different.

Langworthy and Mann describe Circus Juventas as the Minnesota performing group closest to the more well-known Cirque de Soleil. The upcoming performance is based around The Wizard of OZ and includes a spinning cube, gravity-defying castle guards, aerial monkey attacks and a piece of equipment built to replicate Dorothy’s Kansas house that includes an amazing performance in the center ring.

The performances are open to advanced level students in Circus Juventas. Mann, a five-year circus member, has the role of Princess Ozma and also performs in dance and clowning (another word for acting).

“I’m an earthbound person. I have done aerial acts but I’m not in any of these aerial acts. I’m not in a high enough level to do that,” Mann said.

While Langworthy performs on The Static Cradle, an aerial act that involves two performers doing acrobatics using each other as support.

“The static cradle is like a 3-D rectangle within walls. My partner is a 13-year-old girl from St. Paul. We’ll be 30 feet in the air and I’ll be throwing her around and doing all kinds of tricks,” Langworthy said.

Although there’s not a lot of vocal parts to the play, according to Mann there is a lot of physical theater that she hopes will impress the audience. A soon-to-be senior at the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts, Mann first learned about the group when she was little and went to a camp with some of her friends. Although she didn’t immediately join, she went to performances each year, then subbed for a friend for awhile in middle school and committed herself to circus in the eighth grade.

Langworthy, a soon-to-be junior at Stillwater Area High School, joined the group when his sister was involved and only takes a couple of circus classes during the year because he balances circus with football, basketball and delivering The Gazette. He’ll do his act on the static cradle and also will be a Winky, one of the castle guards.

Langworthy and Mann both agree that Circus Jueventas is a big commitment, especially preparing for the upcoming shows. Production work begins in January with scene-blocking, re-working the writer’s script to fit the action and working until summer session when things move into high gear.

Langworthy and Mann have been going to circus from 4 p.m. until whenever they end their rehearsals, usually at 10 p.m. The next step before the show’s opening night on Aug. 2 is dress rehearsals and complete run-throughs of the show. Despite the time commitment for them it’s worth it.

“The best moment was last year. I was onstage — and there’s always a lot going on onstage — but I was doing something entertaining with a comedic bit, and I was just going with it,” Mann said. “It was funny, and me and my friends acted like we were mouthing off to each other. I turned around and saw this old couple just cracking up and laughing at me. Knowing that I had affected them in a positive way makes me know that I’ve done my job.”

They’ve also found community as well.

“We all love each other and we know each other so well. There’s 75 kids and we spend all of our dinners together it’s just like a big family. We love the same things and it gives us a sports aspect without needing to play with a ball,” Mann said.

“It’s a really different program. It’s a non-competitive environment which is a lot different from traditional sports. You get to know a lot of different people outside of Stillwater and it’s a great workout,” Langworthy added.

Both Mann and Langworthy encouraged people to attend the show. They say it’s an awesome experience and entertaining for all ages.

Their advice for others who might want to join the circus: Try it, but be open-minded. Although it seems weird at first, it’s really awesome.


If you Go
Check out the Circus Juventas website for the performance schedule and ticket prices by going to www.circusjuventas.org and clicking on “Attend 2013 summer show.”

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]