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Audience and actors will move through The Morton Arboretum in a four-part Theatre-Hikes season happening weekends through October in Lisle. (Photo provided)

Theater fans can follow the action – literally – during Theatre-Hikes productions at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle. On weekends from July through October, join the Three Musketeers, James and his giant peach, Mark Twain, Dracula and their cohorts as they share their stories during a nature hike under the Arboretum’s canopy of trees.

“Audiences of all ages love experiencing these well-known, well-loved stories in a whole new way, moving through the Arboretum grounds,” says Jenelle Hardtke, special events manager. “Nature becomes part of the story, as the actors incorporate our landscapes and settings into the production.”

Theatre-Hikes season

• July: "The Three Musketeers"
• August: "James and the Giant Peach"
• September: "An Afternoon with Mark Twain"
• October: "The Passion of Dracula"

Performances are offered each Saturday and Sunday from now through Oct. 27. Shows in July, August and September begin at 1 p.m., and October's start at 3 p.m.

The first Sunday performance of each month will be a low-impact hike suitable for strollers, walkers and wheelchairs. Each performance lasts about three hours, so patrons are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes, dress for the weather and bring a chair or blanket, water bottle and insect repellent.

Each show begins at the Thornhill Shelter (Parking Lot 21) at the Arboretum at 4100 Route 53.

Tickets include Arboretum admission, so before or after the action, guests can explore the David Rogers "Big Bugs" exhibition or award-winning Children’s Garden among the attractions.

For members, tickets cost $12 for adults and $8 for children. For nonmembers, tickets cost $19 for adults and $13 for children. Season tickets are available and cost $40 for member adults, $25 for member children, $60 for nonmember adults and $45 for nonmember children. To purchase tickets, call 630-725-2066, visit, or stop by The Morton Arboretum Visitor Center.

Plot points

"The Three Musketeers" was written by Ken Ludwig, based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas about the famed swashbuckling friends. It is a tale of heroism, treachery, close escapes and, above all, honor. D'Artagnan sets off for Paris in search of adventure. His sister Sabine, the quintessential tomboy, is sent along to attend a convent school in Paris. Posing as a young man, she quickly becomes entangled in her brother's adventures. Soon after reaching Paris, d'Artagnan joins forces with his heroes, the famous musketeers, to defend the honor of the Queen of France. The show is appropriate for all ages (geared toward young boys and girls who like action, ages 6 to 14, and adults) and contains some violence (sword fights, deceit and death).

"James and the Giant Peach" is based on the story by Roald Dahl. A boy who was always told he was worth nothing achieves the impossible in this play. Crocodile tongues, horrible aunts, a ravenous rhinoceros: poor James is miserable … until something peculiar happens involving a giant peach and group of talking insects. James and his bug buddies take the most wonderful and extraordinary journey they could ever imagine. It's appropriate for all ages (geared for children 6 to 13, with adult humor, too).

"An Afternoon with Mark Twain"
has the author share two of his well-known stories: "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" and "The Diaries of Adam and Eve." In the first story, Jim Smiley, a man with all the luck in the world, finds his luck has run out when he gambles everything on a giant frog that he figures can’t lose. Then, Twain retells the creation story, with a reclusive Adam who finds himself unprepared for the arrival of Eve, a talkative, emotional female. Will they find a way to get along? The show is appropriate for all ages.

"The Passion of Dracula" by Bob Hall and David Richmond is based on the Bram Stoker novel. This version of the Dracula legend is set in the English countryside in 1911, where several village girls have died under mysterious circumstances. Dr. Seward presides over a nearby mental hospital, and the locality has acquired a new resident, Count Dracula. A trio of doctors, a young reporter and a stouthearted English lord battle the count for possession of the lovely heroine. With a dash of Holmesian sleuthing in this Baskerville Hound country setting, the heroes save the heroine and dispatch the count in the traditional manner. It's appropriate for all ages (geared toward teens and young adults, but contains no inappropriate material).

The Arboretum is open daily 7 a.m. until sunset. Learn more at