The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
Each year, hundreds of people beg Cirque du Soleil to teach them how to do what they do?only to be told to get off the stage and return to their seat. Orlando Circus School gives you an "in" that doesn't interrupt any shows. The school's founders, Andrei Roublev and Irina Roubleva, both worked in the famous troupe during their nearly 20 years in the circus industry, and a number of their instructors are still active Cirque du Soleil members today.
Orlando Circus School?s studio is equipped with all the accoutrements needed for building one's crowd-wowing skills?plus moveable, colored lights for staging full performances. There, students of all ages can hurt gravity's feelings on the flying trapeze and catch one another in mid-air. Hanging silks and Spanish webs treat you to the sensation of pirouetting perpendicular to the floor. Even if students prefer to remain earthbound, they can hone their juggling, cartwheel across the floor inside a German wheel, practice high-jumps and flips on a trampoline or practice tightrope-walking at a height that would hardly terrify an ant.
Snakes slither in glass display cases, and lizards wriggle in the hands of trained handlers as they're held up in full view of a curious crowd. This is the scene as one of Repticon's presenters educates attendees on the biology, behavior, and typing speeds of exotic cold-blooded creatures at one of the year-round shows held in cities across the country. Reptile and amphibian breeders, scholars, and handlers engage audiences in lectures and demonstrations in the midst of live reptile exhibits, family activities, and displays for exotic-pet supplies. Presentations may focus on the genetics of large snake species, the specifics of exotic-pet care, and the effect that tiny hats have on the image of arachnids such as tarantulas, scorpions, and spiders.
At Cirque Italia, aerialists and acrobats look down to see a very unusual set: a 35,000-gallon water tank. As the high-energy acts swing from ropes and flip over trapezes, curtains of rain and fountain jets crisscross in time to each move. Among them, the Verticali act, in which seasoned performer Gimmi Fornaciari sings classical Italian songs while suspended upside down high above the ground.
On the ground, Fornaciari returns as Laser Man, deftly defying the laws of physics by holding, splitting, and even wielding beams of green laser energy. In a nod to the aquatic setting, Morgaine Rosenthal does a mermaid act, rising from her shell before ascending into the air for a grace corde lisse performance. And between acts, Coco the Clown?who once set a Guinness World Record for riding a 5-inch bicycle?keeps the crowd's spirits high as the human pyramid. Other captivating sights include the humorous antics of the Twin Sailor's Duo Lira act, human-sized bubbles, and Montalvo's trio, who balance and pose atop the reed-like structure of their precarious Chinese pole.
In addition to acting as a love letter to the traditions of the Italian circus, the latest Cirque Italia show is also a tribute to the ingenuity of founder Manuel Rebecchi. As the nephew of Moira Orfei, the world-renowned queen of the Italian circus, Rebecchi combined his family's pedigree with his own groundbreaking ideas to form a company that leaves crowds breathless and competitors hurrying to catch up.
The seasoned performers of Piccadilly Circus dazzle audiences of all ages with 90 minutes of acrobatics, comedic high jinks, and trained animals beneath the big top. Audiences gasp at high-flying trapeze artists swooping through the air with the confidence of a kite in a wind tunnel, as well as contortionists able to bend themselves into human bonsai trees. Death-defying motorcyclists roar into a caged globe to perform a 360-degree display of vehicular mastery. Gaggles of clowns coax out chuckles, and a trained elephant parades around the ring, occasionally stopping to memorize an audience member's phone number. General-admission seating surrounds the ring, allowing ample viewpoints from which to observe the boisterous spectacle.
The acrobatic Zoppe-Zamperla family steers the reins of Cavallo Equestrian Arts, LLC, drawing on 166 years of showmanship to delight audiences as it tours the globe, standing, flipping, and hanging upside-down on galloping horses. Transporting spectators back to the age of knights, mystics, and spaceships made of wood, Cavallo Equestrian Arts' performers combine these death-defying feats with jousts amid music, dancing, and acrobatics, as well as spectacles such as fire-breathing. The Zoppe-Zamperla brothers have assembled their talents and passions into wondrous shows, earning them featured performances in movies such as The First of May and The Fisher King and opportunities to amaze in events such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's circus.