The origins of the circus date as far back as Ancient Rome, but back then it largely referred to a circular arena where events such as chariot races, equestrian shows, and staged battles took place. It wasn't until the later 1700s that the circus began to resemble what we think of today. The concept originated in Europe, where the likes of Philip Astley and Andrew Durcow brought their impressive displays of horsemanship on tour.
In the United States, however, the circus world did not really take off until the early 20th century when James Anthony Bailey and P. T. Barnum teamed up with the Ringling Brothers Circus in 1919. The partnership - which is still in operation today - is a circus in the most traditional sense. Clowns, elephants, acrobats, lion tamers, and daredevils have all become staples of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, and today the touring company still sells out arenas across the country.
While traditional acts such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey are still popular, the concept of a circus has shifted dramatically over the last several decades, thanks in large part to the emergence of Cirque du Soleil. The company was founded in Montreal in 1984, and what started as a unique blend of circus acts and street performers has grown to become a worldwide phenomenon.
Cirque du Soleil has made a name for itself thanks largely to its elaborate costumes, classic music, and mind-bending acrobatics. The Canadian circus troupe has operated dozens of original shows throughout the years, including Love, which first kicked off a tour in 2006. Today, Love is performed at The Mirage in Las Vegas and features music from The Beatles that has been set to complement the breathtaking choreography of the acrobats.
Whether you prefer traditional circuses or have fallen for the allure of Cirque du Soleil, it's hard to deny the appeal of these one-of-a-kind shows!
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It's that time of year again, when everyone breaks out the tinsel and ornaments, fills up on fruitcake and eggnog, and lays out some milk and cookies for Jolly Old St. Nick – that's right, it's Christmas. The holiday season is off to a grand start and while many families have their own traditions and ways to celebrate the big day, so do many performance troupes and theaters. There are a plethora of wondrous shows to check out this year, each of which is bursting with holiday spirit.
Fans of more traditional Christmas fare will have a lot of great shows to choose from in the coming weeks. One of the most treasured classics of the season is the Nutcracker Suite, a charming ballet scored by Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky that has captured the hearts of countless families since the 1890s. Theatergoers can also follow the story of Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens' A Christmas Carol, or experience the Yuletide joy of The Night Before Christmas. Meanwhile, fans of Christmas music can enjoy rousing versions of their favorite songs with the Christmas Pops, or catch updated versions of these holiday classics at Jazzy Christmas.
Some of your favorite characters are also feeling festive this holiday seasons, and bringing their Christmas cheer to the stage. Fairy tale lovers can take their little ones on a magical journey as Cinderella's Christmas brings a bit of the princess' lifestyle to the stage, while drama enthusiasts can learn lessons about family and togetherness at Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas. Fans of the Sunday funnies can enjoy season's greetings from their favorite furry friends at performances of Garfield Christmas and It's Christmas, Snoopy. Of course, what holiday season would be complete without a visit from the Dr. Seuss' green grump, the Grinch? How the Grinch Stole Christmas continues to be a cherished part of the seasons - and a performance that families won't want to miss.
Those who are looking for a slightly different take on the traditional holiday theater experience will have a number of unique options to explore as well. Whether you're hoping for a scare at Halloween on Christmas, to experience new worlds at Christmas on Mars, or looking to learn a bit more about photography at A Kodachrome Christmas, you're sure to find something to suit your tastes this Christmas.
Everywhere you look on TV it seems like a new comedian is taking over the airwaves, and it's been this way for years. Whether it be Jerry Seinfeld making the seamless transition from stand-up to sitcom stardom or people like Jon Stewart, who have taken the more traditional path from the stage to behind the talk show desk, every big star seems to have gotten his or her start performing stand-up shows.
Sometimes the formula is flipped around a little bit, however, and that is especially true for Daniel Tosh. The wise-cracking Comedy Central host got his start on the stage, and while he has always been a talented stand-up, his popularity skyrocketed after the debut of his TV show Tosh.0.
The show, which is essentially Tosh offering up sarcastic comments to YouTube videos, is the perfect venue for him to showcase his oft-offensive brand of humor. Since the show began in 2009, his stand-up star has risen considerably. He released his third comedy album Daniel Tosh: Happy Thoughts in 2011, which topped the Billboard comedy charts.
Tosh has been a big hit in the last three years, but few stand-up comedians have been more successful on TV than Louis C.K. The self-deprecating comedian became a critical favorite with the debut of his FX series Louie. He plays a somewhat fictionalized version of himself, and the show's dark humor - often coupled with several bits from his routine - have made the series one of the most unique on TV.
Along with his Emmy-winning series, Louis C.K. also helped pioneer a burgeoning trend in the stand-up world. He sold his 2011 special Live at the Beacon Theater for $5 online. Since then, other comedians have followed suit including Rob Delaney and Aziz Ansari.
Speaking of Ansari, he is also balancing a stand-up career with one of the most recognizable roles on TV - Parks and Recreation's Tom Haverford. Ansari had appeared intermittently on several shows and movies before - including Flight of the Conchords and Funny People - but his supporting role as Tom has helped propel Parks and Rec to be one of the most beloved comedies on TV.
Some people have taken the reverse route, including Craig Ferguson. The affable Scotland native gained notoriety for his role on The Drew Carey Show, and later as the host of The Late Late Show. However, he did not release his first comedy special until 2009.