Circus in Fox Lake

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Recurring dreams can often be brief and haunting. But 6 miles west of Lake Geneva at a large theater in the center of 40 acres of wooded trails, Dana Montana happily watches her lifelong dream unfold. Here, she takes center stage to introduce up to 300 guests to her beloved purebred Arabian horses that majestically trot out to join her. They entertain audiences alongside expert acrobatic performers and trainers, whose resumés include stints with the Ringling Bros. Circus, Walt Disney World, and Arabian Nights.

Garbed in sparkling bridles and feather-plumed headdresses, the magnificent steeds wow the crowd with dazzling footwork and quotes from Shakespeare’s lesser-known horse plays. Backstage tours wind behind the scenes, where trainers host presentations on horse training before leading crowds to the stables to meet and pet the hoofed performers.

5065 State Road 50
Delavan,
WI
US

A buzzing crowd gathers around the entrance of the Zoppé Family Circus tent before each performance, straining to glimpse the wooden hands of a large clock that displays the next showtime. When the moment is nearly at hand, members of the family emerge from the cavernous tent to greet their guests. As they introduce their siblings, spouses, and children, an accordion exhales melodies first heard in 1842, when Napoline and Ermenegilda Zoppé traveled from Budapest to Venice for their first show.

Inside the tent, Napoline and Ermenegilda’s descendants effortlessly balance on wires and swing from trapezes. Just below their aerial stage, horses trot around a sawdust ring as equestrian ballerinas display a brand of showmanship worthy of comparison to John Wayne's performance in The Lone Leotard. Between acts, Giovanni Zoppé takes on the persona of Nino the clown—a lovable character whose earnest efforts to steal the show are thwarted by his own buffoonery.

510 West Lake Street
Addison,
IL
US

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.

525 Dunham Rd
Saint Charles,
IL
US

The Next Theatre Company, celebrating its 30th anniversary, stages relevant, boundary-pushing performances in a cozy, 142-seat space. Adam Rapp, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, loosely based The Metal Children on his personal experience as an author. The story, which is set in a small midwestern town, follows a young adult novelist who is forced to defend his writing to the conservative townspeople by showing them an 18-hour PowerPoint presentation. The play had a successful Off-Broadway during its run not on Broadway.

927 Noyes St
Evanston,
IL
US