Arena Nov. 4-14
United Center Nov. 17-28
90 minutes before the show, come down to the floor to meet the
animals and performers.
There are plenty of parenting-is-like-a-circus jokes: Juggling
kids' schedules, the high-wire act of parenting a teenager, the
sedan that looks like a clown car and, of course, lots of poop
But run that by Johnathon and Priscilla Iverson, and they laugh.
They see your hectic schedule and raise you ... an actual circus.
Johnathon Lee Iverson is the ringmaster (big hat, booming voice,
lots of sequins) of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey's FUNundrum
tour, and his wife, Priscilla, is a dancer in the show. The couple
and their two children, 5-year-old Matthew and 19-month-old Lila,
live on the world's largest privately owned train, traveling around
the country with The Greatest Show on Earth.
That train rolled into Chicago Thursday for a three-week stop,
performing at the Allstate Arena Nov. 4-14 and at the
United Center Nov. 17-28.
"I know it sounds crazy, but I couldn't imagine a better
situation," says Priscilla, who met Johnathon when she joined the
show from Brazil in 2001. "We're together all the time, on the same
schedule. One of us will finish a number and run backstage to give
the kids a kiss."
Life on the road is hectic, but surprisingly normal for the
kids, the Iversons say -- or as normal as life can be when your
close family friends are Mongolian strongmen. The circus has a
school, a nursery and even a babysitting co-op. The kids learn
about the Hoover dam in history class, then visit when the circus
stops in Las Vegas.
And they get to see the circus as often as they want. Lila is
crazy about Lyca, the dog in the show's cowboy act, and Matthew is
taking lessons from the show's acrobats. They catch the show from
the wings and between acts, sneak a few minutes with mom and
"They call it the greatest show on earth and it is," Johnathon
says. "There isn't anything out there that generates the same
excitement. As ringmaster, I get to share it with kids on the road
every day, and as a father, I get to share it with my own kids. I
get to look over and see their faces light up and you can't beat
Plus, he says, they really know how to throw a birthday
"Other children might have a clown - our kids have the best
clowns in the world," Johnathon says. And the lion tamer doesn't
Chicago holds a special place in the Iversons whirlwind
nine-year marriage. On Nov. 15, 2001, the two were married -- in
between shows -- at the United Center, and will celebrate their
anniversary there this year.
You can catch the Iversons and the rest of the FUNundrum cast at
one of 19 shows this month. For a full schedule and details, visit
the Ringling Bros. website.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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