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Escape the economic crisis. Don’t worry about swine flu. Forget everyday problems for a little while. Come join the circus, the Big Apple Circus, returning to Queens for its 31st season with 26 shows starting Saturday at Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows. The circus features world−renowned artists, up to new tricks!

Professional clown Glen Heroy is just one of many talented performers at the circus. As a Big Apple Circus clown, Heroy is living his dream.

This born comic’s fantasy quickly became a reality when he was discovered at 13 in his hometown of New Paltz, N.Y. He toured as a clown for two years and later became an actor. Today, he is a professional clown with the Big Apple Circus, playing a caring figure that encourages and nurtures audience participation.

The character provides happiness to children, which Heroy believes is one of the main goals of being a clown. Many children are afraid of clowns —“for the same reason I’m afraid of some clowns,” he said. “They don’t come from an honest place. They dress up in a wig and red suspenders and play a clown from the outside in. I play a clown from the inside out.”

The best clowns, in Heroy’s opinion, are “completely in touch with themselves and their vulnerabil­ity.”

To that end, Heroy is also the program supervisor for the Clown Care initiative, which provides sick children with a bit of cheer as they battle serious illnesses and undergo hospital stays.

Heroy is not the only Big Apple Circus performer to get into the circus business at an early age. Trick rider Christine Zerbini was born into it.

Zerbini’s bloodline can be traced through nine generations of circus performers, all the way back to Italy in 1763. Her husband and two children also perform — which is good, because hers is an all−consuming vocation.

“The hours start early in the morning and then go on, even after the show,” she said. “There is a lot to take care of in addition to performing — grooming, feeding animals — and it continues throughout the whole day.”

Zerbini’s specialty is trick riding and acrobatics on her prized horses, and she promises innovative and exciting tricks. “Be prepared to laugh a lot, be amazed by everything, and the stunts will make your mouth drop,” she said.

In addition to clowns and trick riding, the audience can also look forward to flying trapeze artists, balancing acts, juggling twins, acrobatics, animals and an eclectic band. The Big Apple tent is temperatur­e−contro­lled and every seat provides a view of the action. The show is appropriate for all ages.

If You Go

Big Apple Circus — Play On!

When: May 16−31

Where: Cunningham Park, 196−22 Union Tpke., Fresh Meadows

Cost: $15−$30

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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