VAN CORTLANDT MANOR Animals & Acrobats May 23-25: Forget CGI-enhanced cartoons and jaw-droppingly realistic video games: Nothing sets a child’s imagination flying, in our book, quite like the circus. On Memorial Day weekend, kids can experience the glory of the Big Top through this Historic Hudson Valley spectacular. There’s a thrill a minute: Highlights include a “Flight of the Raptor” bird show, life-size puppets, tightrope walkers, magicians, mimes, fortune-tellers, and, of course, animals and acrobats. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. $12, $6 ages 5-17, under 5 free. u 525 S. Riverside Ave., Croton-on-Hudson. 914-271-8981.
MUSEUM VILLAGE Zerbini Family Circus May 22-24: The Zerbinis know a thing or two about the circus business: The family has been clowning around now for eight generations. See what they’ve gleaned over the years by checking out the pranksters, jugglers, and aerial artists in action. As an added bonus, you can get up close to the show’s animals by riding the camels and petting the miniature horses. Fri. 4:30 & 7:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 2, 4:30 & 7:30 p.m. $9 in advance, $11 at the door, under 3 free. u 1010 Rte. 17M, Monroe. 845-782-6432.
RHINEBECK CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS Recess! May 2: This mirthful musical, performed by the theater’s Kids on Stage troupe, revolves around a group of students that revels in pulling pranks on their substitute teacher. Why children would feel the need to act as if they’re torturing a sub, while they probably do so in reality on a regular basis, is beyond us. But perhaps a familiarity with the subject will lend their performances a realistic, Tony-worthy touch. 11 a.m. $8, $6 children. u 661 Rte. 308, Rhinebeck. 845-876-3080.
RIVERSPACE High School Musical 2: On Stage! May 2-3, 8-10: No, HSM fanatics, heartthrobs Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens do not appear in this stage production of the insanely popular Disney Channel film. Instead, aspiring thespians from Nyack’s Helen Hayes Youth Theatre (ranging in age from 8 to 18) portray the Wildcat crew. In this chapter of the trilogy, the gang spends summer vacation working at the country club and prepping for the big talent show. Will Troy and Gabriella finally kiss? Or will Sharpay steal Troy away first? As if you don’t already know. Think of it as an excuse to take in (and sing along to) those catchy numbers one more time. Fri. 7 p.m., Sat. 2 & 7 p.m., Sun. 2 & 5 p.m. $15. u 119 Main St., Nyack. 845-348-1880
AQUINAS HALL THEATRE Madeline and the Bad Hat May 23: Adapted from Ludwig Bemelmans’ beloved children’s book, this musical stars pint-sized boarding student Madeline and her new neighbor Pepino. The slingshot-sporting bad boy quickly antagonizes Miss Clavel’s female pupils, none more so than Madeline. At the end of the day, however, the young Parisian and the Spaniard manage to forge a path to friendship. The production is staged by ArtsPower National Touring Theatre. 2 p.m. $10, $5 ages 12 and under. u Mount Saint Mary College. 330 Powell Ave., Newburgh. 845-569-3290.
OLANA STATE HISTORIC SITE Family Tour at Olana May 16: Hudson River School artist Frederic Edwin Church designed and lived on these grounds, a perfect destination for families in search of an idyllic way to spend their Saturday. Visitors tour the Persian-style villa and then, equipped with a backpack full of activity ideas, set off to explore the property on their own. Reservations required by May 8. 1 p.m. $9, under 12 free. u 5720 Rte. 9G, Hudson. 518-828-0135.
Caption: Nice hat: A red-topped Zerbini Family Circus clown sits atop a camel (top) while Madeline and friends — each with a peculiar headpiece of his or her own — sing and dance in the streets of Paris (bottom)