Tired of the Davis recall circus? Turn off the news and go see the real thing when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baileycomes to town. Families can laugh at the antics of world-famous jester Bello, ooh and ahh at the daring feats of animal tamer Mark Oliver Gebel, and hold their breath as a record-shattering five motorcyclists speed around inside the 16-foot steel sphere cheerily called the Globe of Death.
Ticket-holders wishing for a bit of behind-the-scenes fun can arrive an hour before show time for the free Animal Open House and Three Ring Adventure to meet selected performers, get autographs, and try on costumes. The show also features stilt-walkers, acrobats, aerialists, and, of course, plenty of clowns. Maybe some of them will run for governor. The "Greatest Show on Earth" pitches its tent at 7:30 p.m. (and continues through Sept. 1 at various Bay Area venues) at the Oakland-Alameda County Arena, 7000 Coliseum (at 66th Avenue), Oakland. Admission is $11-50; call (510) 569-2121 or visit www.ringling.com. -- Jack Karp
It's No Annie
Real orphans, real drama
Warsaw, 1942 -- Janus Korczak took some very bad news with equanimity. Nazi officials had decreed that the 200 orphans in his care must undergo "resettlement to the east," a euphemism for the death camp Treblinka. Gentile colleagues offered Korczak asylum, but he refused. With quiet dignity he marched to his death with his charges.
Thanks to his influential books, work in children's causes, and detailed diaries, Korczak is as famous in Europe as Anne Frank. In America, though, he's almost unknown. The ACT Young Conservatory aims to change that with Korczak's Children, a dramatic play whose youthful cast attempts to capture the fragile beauty Korczak brought to life within the orphanage, even as war raged outside its doors. The show previews tonight at 7:30 (and runs through Aug. 30) at Zeum Theater, 221 Fourth St., S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 749-2228 or visit www.act-sf.org. -- Joyce Slaton
Prestidigitators Face Off
People are so gullible. They'll believe anything you show them if you point, yell "Look!," and keep the truth in the other hand. Political analogies aside, this fact is just a fun, harmless reality of the human condition. When there's a tuxedo and a lovely assistant involved, it's all for the better, and if a dove or a bunny rabbit appears, forget it. Tonight, Misdirections Magic Shop presents the Magic Stage Competition, starring last year's champion, youngster Alex Gonzalez, and MC Robert Strong. Scheduled competitors include the "Fastest Hands in the West," Jeremy Ducharme; Mr. Mystic; and Paige Grosenheider, the "Enchantress of Illusion." Get duped at 7:30 at James Lick School Auditorium, 1220 Noe (at Clipper), S.F. Admission is $20-25; call 566-2180 or visit www.misdirections.com. -- Hiya Swanhuyser