Benicio Del Toro makes his film debut in "Big Top Pee-Wee" as Dog Faced Boy. Oddly enough, about 20 years later he would play the title role of The Wolfman (2010). Both films had music by Danny Elfman and were slammed by critics as being weaker retreads of earlier films.
Due to Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985) and this being produced by different studios (Warner Brothers for "Adventure," Paramount for this one), Danny Elfman's famous score for the earlier film could not be reused, so he had to compose a new score for this one.
The writers imagined a back story to connect this film to Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985): Pee Wee had become famous, due to the "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" feature film (starring James Brolin and Morgan Fairchild), inspired by his adventure. Pee Wee had a lot of girls flock over him, when he became a Frank Sinatra-like singer. But, Pee Wee had found fame too much and decided to fly away and live a quiet normal life as a farmer in an old folks' community.
Mother Cabrini was founder of The Sisters of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic religious institute. It was a major support to the Italian immigrants to the United States as she herself was an Italian-American. A fitting name for the Italian influence and mixed world cultures found within a circus.