Book Kennison spent his youth at two great youth circuses: Circus Harmony, in his native St. Louis, Missouri, and Circus Smirkus, a touring company based in Vermont. It was at Circus Smirkus that Book first worked with Jeff and Julie Jenkins, along with dozens of other future Midnight Circus performers. Says Book, “Both organizations gave me the chance to perform hundreds of shows with my best friends–an invaluable education, and an opportunity I continue to chase.”
Audiences across Chicago remember Book for his unique juggling style, which was initially developed with his father, Richard Kennison, and was borne out of his natural flexibility. These days, Book says he creates material by taking into account every element of the performance–setting, music, costume, etc., along with whichever skills he wants to feature. Usually his knack for physical comedy wins out, says Book. “Ultimately, the material needs to serve my passion for acting like a goofball in the circus ring,” he says.
Book’s contribution to Midnight Circus isn’t just limited to his talent for goofing off, however–he’s also written original songs that have been featured under the little big top over the last few years. These include “Eleven Summers” in 2017 and “Walk Through The Door,” in 2018, which were written with fellow company member Logan Kerr and performed by Samantha Jenkins and Julie Jenkins, respectively. Book says he enjoys the process of getting these songs working for the circus ring. “It’s a joy to collaborate with Logan and the whole Midnight Team to get these songs in front of so many audiences, sung by such talented singers.”
Although he’s been with the company almost fifteen years, Book still hasn’t run out of old friends to recruit for Midnight Circus in the Parks. Just last year, his fellow Circus Harmony alum Kellin Quinn Hentoff-Killian joined the troupe for a blockbuster first season. Book and Kellin go back a long way–Book’s father was Kellin’s first juggling coach, and Kellin’s mother, Jessica Hentoff, is the founder and director of Circus Harmony. “Right about the time I left St. Louis, Kellin started to emerge as one of the most exciting jugglers in the world. It's been a real joy to reconnect with him on stage,” says Book.
With Midnight Circus, Book says, such rekindlings are always possible. “When all of us were kids, our dream was to keep working together, creating and performing shows we loved. Midnight Circus was the perfect place to do just that. No matter where we go, we all look forward to reuniting every fall to make circus magic in Chicago.”