As we head into the final stretch of summer, it's time to pack in everything on your bucket list. Spend a long day building sandcastles on Oak Street Beach, hit up the museums you've missed, and enjoy dinner al fresco with a scenic view. While you're at it, why not run away and join the circus? Or hang out with your animal pals from Madagascar... wait—what?!

Here are two whimsical, family-friendly shows you won't want to miss this summer in Chicago: Cirque du Soleil's Luzia and Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Madagascar – A Musical Adventure.


Cirque du Soleil's LUZIA
July 21–September 3

Cirque du Soleil's grand big top will be setting up shop at the United Center on July 21–September 3 for its latest touring show, LUZIA. You'll be whisked away on an imaginary journey through magical Mexico in this dreamy, one-of-a-kind circus show featuring the unparalleled acrobatics of the Cirque du Soleil's international troupe of performers.

The rich, vibrant culture of Mexico is captured via breathtaking landscapes and architectural wonders, all recreated under the spectacular big top. Inspired by two elements in particular—luz (light in Spanish) and lluvia (rain)—this production guarantees plenty of jaw-dropping, edge-of-your-seat moments.

A few facts about the LUZIA Big Top and the Cirque du Soleil village:

  • The Big Top seats more than 2,600 people.
  • The entire site set-up takes 8 days. This includes installation of the Big Top, the entrance tent, the VIP tent and the rehearsal spaces.
  • The Big Top stands at 19 meters (62 feet) high and is 51 meters (167 feet) in diameter.
  • The 4 steel masts stand at 25 meters (82 feet) tall each.
  • 550 pegs are required to hold the big top firmly to 48,500 square feet of asphalt.
  • The Big Top can withstand winds up to 120 km/h (75 mph).
  • The light-colored canvas helps counter the effects of the sun, thereby reducing energy consumption and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • LUZIA travels via 65 trailer trucks carrying close to 2,000 tons of equipment.

For tickets and more information, visit


Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Madagascar – A Musical Adventure 
July 13–August 27

Get ready to laugh your heart out as you follow along with the craziest crew this side of Lake Michigan: Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo and Melman the Giraffe have teamed up with Chicago Shakespeare Theater for a don't-miss summer family musical production: Madagascar – A Musical Adventure.

Directed and choreographed by Rachel Rockwell, this show hits the stage at the Theater’s home on Navy Pier, July 13–August 27. Based on the DreamWorks Animation motion picture, this wild and wacky musical is written by Kevin Del Aguila—the Emmy Award-winning writer of the animated PBS hit Peg Cat—with original music and lyrics by creative duo George Noriega and Joel Someillan, who have developed music for popular children’s series, including Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go.    

When a hilarious group of animal friends busts out of their home at New York’s Central Park Zoo and travel to the wilds of Madagascar they are confronted with a series of challenges to their preconceived notions of life in the wild. “Move It, Move It!” and get your tickets to this 70-minute production STAT at or call the CST Box Office at 312-595-5600.


See more Chicago theater & performing arts picks on the blog, or check out for a full calendar of shows from 200+ local theater companies. Some highlights worth checking out? Chicago's Tony Award-winning companies.

Photos of Cirque de Soleil's LUZIA by Matt Beard © 2017 Cirque du Soleil. Photo of Madagascar by Liz Lauren.