Big Top Academy: Meet the Characters

As the young group of students at BIG TOP ACADEMY strive towards personal excellence, they learn to work as a team and transcend their own limits. Fast-paced and high-energy, the series tells the story of eight students – Nicholas, Maxwell, April, Phoenix, Chase, Ella, Celeste and Axel – who hail from different walks of life and have a variety of skills: some are already circus artists, others come from ballet and gymnastics, while a few have no formal training at all. Heading up the school is the firm but friendly headmistress, Miss G., along with stern athletics director Sir Rayne and wacky teacher Ms. Martel. Miss G will mold the young students into the best circus artists they can be.At this prestigious school, the value of friendship is enhanced, the stakes are high, the risks are real, the rivalries are intense and the obstacles formidable.

* * *


As the son of famous daredevil Nicky Zolta, circus is in Nicholas’ blood. He eats, sleeps, and breathes circus, and wants nothing more than to follow in his father’s footsteps and attend the world’s best circus school, Big Top Academy. Yet, Nicholas has to keep his BTA audition a secret from his mother. Many years ago, Nicky Zolta disappeared while performing a daredevil circus stunt, and Lucy Zolta swore she’d never let her son follow in his father’s footsteps. But Lucy soon realizes that she can’t stop Nicholas from doing what he believes he was meant to do and allows him to attend Big Top Academy.

Nicholas is thrilled to walk the same halls his father did before him and share his knowledge with his BFF, circus newbie Phoenix. A natural leader, Nicholas makes friends easily – but makes a dangerous enemy almost immediately in the form of Maxwell Rayne, son of sinister Sir Rayne, the school’s new Acrobatic Director. Sir Rayne has a keen interest in Nicholas and his family history… but why? What does Sir Rayne know that Nicholas doesn’t?
Nicholas quickly learns his father’s legacy is both a blessing and a curse. Nicholas will discover his father had some big secrets, and the answers all seem to lead right back to Big Top Academy. Perhaps Nicholas’ gut feeling was right: his father might still be out there somewhere, and his disappearance may turn out to be the biggest stunt of them all!


The son of decorated athlete Sir Rayne, Max is a competitive gymnast who’s been training for the Olympics his whole life. So he’s surprised when his father announces that he’s taken a job at a circus school and that Max is to attend the school – no ifs, ands, or buts. Sir Rayne has shown nothing but disdain for circus in the past, and Max has adopted his father’s strong opinions. Maxwell has no choice but to quickly shift gears and focus on being the best at circus school – but he’s not happy about it. And the first person whom he takes his frustrations out on is “golden boy” Nicholas Zolta.


A goal-oriented perfectionist, April left her ballet dreams behind when she wasn’t accepted into the BOPS, an elite prima ballerina squad. Since then, she harbours the feeling that she might not be good enough to shine centre stage… Of course, she lets none of this show when she arrives at Big Top Academy. For April, this is the opportunity to start with a clean slate and prove to everyone that she’s a star. Yet, as she transforms from ballerina to circus artist, she will still have to deal with her toughest critic: herself.


A skateboard girl who’s not afraid to speak her mind, Phoenix never thought she’d be auditioning for circus school. She’s a regular kid who goes to a regular school, hangs out with her best friend Nicholas at the skate park and helps out her parents at the diner they own. She’s never taken a circus class, let alone a gymnastic lesson! Besides, her working-class parents never had much money for those type of extracurricular activities. Everything Phoenix knows, she’s picked up on her own – basketball, skateboarding, parkour. So when she gets in to circus school, she has a lot of catching up to do, and she’ll do her best to fit in while remaining true to herself. She’ll learn that the circus embraces people from all walks of life and the things that make her unique – her street smarts, her bluntness, her aversion to everything “fancy” – will only help to make her a well-rounded circus artist.


Son of a a busy mom with a mysterious career and an overbooked agenda, Chase is a rebel with a real knack for getting in trouble. He’s been to many schools around the world… and has been expelled from all of them. For Chase, circus school is just another stop… until he realizes it’s lot more fun than he thought. For once in his life, he doesn’t want to get kicked out of school. This place feels like home. But staying on the straight and narrow isn’t easy for Chase and he’s having a hard time resisting his inner rebel, especially when he finds out his roommate Nicholas is knee-deep in awesome BTA mysteries! As he gets wrapped up in helping Nicholas figure out the secrets of the school, Chase must try his best to avoid getting into trouble. But unbeknownst to Chase, someone’s keeping a close eye on him and reporting his every move back to his mom. No wonder the school’s Chef knew exactly what his favourite cereal was from the very first day!


The youngest member of the travelling Piccolo Family Circus, Ella has been performing on stage with her family for as long as she can remember. They are constantly on the road and never spend more than a few nights in the same city, but Ella could not imagine her life any other way. Lately, ticket sales haven’t been going so great and, although her parents try to shield Ella from such concerns, she can sense that their family business is in serious trouble. Which is why she thinks this might be the perfect time to join her older sister, Celeste, at circus school. Her plan is to vlog all the cool, new things she’ll learn at circus school, popularizing the Piccolo name and hopefully boosting ticket sales. But first, she must get in and she won’t let anything get in her way: not even the glucose monitor that keeps her type 1 diabetes in check.


A returning student, Celeste is also a member of the Piccolo Family Circus. Having been homeschooled most of her life, Celeste was anxious about going to a real school far away from her family and everything she knows, but now that she’s been there for a year, she absolutely loves it! She’s learning lots of new circus moves and techniques, but she also has more time to devote to her other interests, like science! She’s happy her little sister Ella is coming to join her, but at the same time, Ella is a reminder of home and the circus life she’s expected to get back to one day. Celeste is fiercely protective of her little sister, but the two will clash when they have different ideas of what the Piccolo family’s future is supposed to look like. Celeste enjoys performing, but that doesn’t engage her imaginative scientific brain. If only there was a way to combine the two…


Axel comes from a long lineage of lawyers, and both his parents are judges. Indeed, Axel’s life has already been planned out for him: he will attend the prestigious private school that his mother, grandfather and great grandfather attended before him, after which he’ll study law where he will graduate with honours, and then become a judge, just like the rest of his family. Circus is, according to his parents, simply a hobby. But what was meant to be just a passing phase has turned into a passion. Axel excels in every discipline at BTA. His skills are impressive and if he keeps training, he’ll have a promising career ahead of him. But in order to do that, Axel will have to face his parents and prove to them circus isn’t just fun and games for him. It’s what he wants to do for the rest of his life.


Rosa is the newest arrival to Big Top Academy. She’s an exchange student from a circus school in Mexico called Circo Gran Malabar. Rosa, is extremely talented in the circus arts, and she’s eager to fit in with the kids at BTA. In an effort to make friends, Rosa hides just how skilled she is, and pretends to need a little more help than she actually does. But in time, she learns that she shouldn’t hide her greatness, and at Big Top Academy, there’s room for everyone to shine.


A retired circus artist, Miss G is a fair, but firm Headmaster. She believes the circus is a place of inclusion and that everyone should feel welcomed. She’s the adult students turn to when they need to talk or when they have a problem they can’t solve on their own. She is authoritative but recognizes talent and knows when to bend the rules. Miss G has the responsibility to help kids strike the balance between sense of play and discipline. To be great circus artists, they’ll need a mixture of both. With kooky Ms. Martel on one end, Miss G felt the school was in need of a strict rule enforcer on the other, which is why she hired Sir Rayne. Yet, through the first season, she’ll start to question her decision. Sir Rayne is a skilled instructor, but he is starting to foster a spirit of competition amongst the students that Miss G does not appreciate. Sir Rayne will also begin to undermine Miss G and scrutinize her every move, hoping to catch her in the wrong.


An athlete with an illustrious career, Sir Rayne’s reputation precedes him when he arrives at Big Top Academy. To the kids, he’s an imposing figure, hired by Miss G to whip them into shape. He won’t shy away from delivering harsh criticism and is stingy with praise. With his very high standards, Sir Rayne seems impossible to satisfy and if the students think it’s hard to have him as an athletic coach now, they’ll soon see that having him as a principal will be a total nightmare!

Trained as a professional clown, Ms. Martel is the eccentric artistic teacher with her head in the clouds. Friendly and lenient, Ms. Martel encourages students to think outside the box and embrace their “crazy” side. Her wacky aunt persona makes her a friend to all of the students.


Gran Malabar is the founder of the Circo Gran Malabar, a circus school in Mexico. His past is a little… mysterious, mostly because he claims to not remember much of it. He traveled from town to town teaching the circus arts. He met young Rosa, who became his protegé, and she ultimately convinced him to put down roots and start his very own circus school. He encourages Rosa when she is invited to be an exchange student at Big Top Academy but is anxious for her to return to Circo Gran Malabar, and is not shy in making his opinion known.

{ SOURCE: Cirque du Soleil }