For animal lovers, there is a certain amount of guilt that accompanies circuses. Worrying about the treatment of the animals, as well as the stress the animals endure while performing unnatural behaviors in the guise of entertainment, can overshadow the pleasure of seeing big cats or elephants doing something other than pacing their enclosure.
And then along comes Gregory Popovich's Comedy and Pet Theatre. A former star of the Moscow Circus, Popovich twists the standard animal act into something guilt-free and wonderful and strange. Popovich rescues cats and dogs from animal shelters, then teaches them feats you would never imagine your little Fluffy or Dr. Barker could do. He rides onto the stage on a modified scooter, with house cats perched on little platforms that branch off the body of the scooter. The cats disembark, climb high poles and then drop gracefully to Popovich's shoulder; they leap through paper hoops; they stand on their hind legs and wheel dogs in tiny bassinets across the stage. The cats seem happy and almost eager to perform, and why not? After each trick, Popovich strokes them or kisses them on the cheek for a job well done. His dogs jump ropes while wearing breeches and balance atop Popovich's battered hat. Popovich himself demonstrates amazing juggling skills and a Chaplin-esque gift for physical comedy. But it's his rescued pets who are the stars of the show, and Popovich seems more than happy to cede the spotlight to his furry companions.
Gregory Popovich and his Comedy and Pet Theatre perform at the Community Music School (560 Trinity Avenue, 314-968-5939) at 5 p.m. Tickets are $15-$18. -- Paul Friswold
Simba's gotten a bad deal: his father's been killed, he's exiled, his evil uncle rules the savannah and his parent company is named for its anti-Semitic founder. He needs out, man, and badly. That's when avant-garde theater director Julie Taymor steps in and says she'll tell his story again, this time using incredibly elaborate and beautiful masks, makeup and costumes, and surreal sets that represent his home. No worries, she says. This is going to be weird, but it's going to be successful -- very successful. Simba agrees. They win six Tonys. Musical history is made. The End -- almost. The Lion King will play at the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Avenue, 314-534-1111) Friday, August 22 through October 12. Tickets range from $25-$127.50. -- Mark Dischinger
Six Flags means long lines of people, prepubescent youngsters making out with each other and a moat of vomit around the Highland Fling. It also means the occasional stopover by a rock band that refuses to die. Saturday's concert bears mentioning, because the Go-Go's, featuring their original lineup of 25 years ago, take the stage at the Old Glory Amphitheatre at 6 p.m. Even though the ladies are playing chili cook-offs and theme parks these days, their renditions of "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "We Got the Beat" sound cool by definition -- and these gals never had to bare their respective midriffs to sell records ($27-$42 for park admission includes concert, plus parking fee, I-44 at Allenton Six Flags Road, 314-534-1111). -- Byron Kerman
All in the Hips
Hadia is coming to St. Louis! Isn't that great? Wait, you don't know who she is? Why, she's the internationally celebrated and award-winning belly dancer (duh!). And she's not only performing this weekend at the Middle Eastern Dance in North America (MEDINA) Festival hosted by Desert Moon Dance Academy (Maryland Heights Centre, 2344 McKelvey Road, 314-432-2281, www.desertmoondance.com), she's also teaching classes. Now's your chance to brush up on those dancing skills from the pom squad or put that post-college beer belly to good use.
This weekend-long fest (August 22-24) also offers a taste of Egypt on Saturday with ethnic food and native treasures. -- Alison Sieloff