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!
-Image courtesy of Getty Images
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.
Many people think novels and plays exist on two entirely different levels. However, while they may be two different kinds of art, much of what makes the two mediums so appealing - captivating characters and compelling storylines - are the same. So it should come as no surprise that some of the best plays over the years have been adapted from novels and other works of fiction, many of which are still running today.
Everyone is familiar with the 1939 classic movie The Wizard of Oz, and before that the stage show of the same name, which debuted around the turn of the 20th century. However, both of those were based on the 1900 novel by Frank L. Baum, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."
By now, the characters of Baum's classic work hold a place in pop culture lore. Nearly everyone knows who Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man are, and can recite their story by heart. Even though the play is more than 100 years old and iconic movie is almost 80, both are still as popular as ever. In fact, it has even spawned a number of spin-off plays including Wicked and The Wiz, which offer a unique look at the beloved story.
But Dorothy Gale is not the only literary icon that has made his or her way to the stage. Mark Twain's famous mischievous character Tom Sawyer has also made the transition. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer has been a popular musical since the 1970s, when a film version (starring a young Jodie Foster as Becky Thatcher), turned a new generation on to the famous story of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
It's not just classic novels that have been turned into stage shows either. More recently, the Nick Hornby novel High Fidelity was adapted into a musical. It seems like a logical fit given that the book uses music as a backdrop for its main character Rob's troubled relationship. The novel was first made into a 2000 movie starring John Cusack and Jack Black before heading to the stage. Since debuting in 2006, the musical has been just as well received.
High Fidelity, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Wizard of Oz are just scratching the surface of books-turned-plays, with classics like Don Quixote and A Christmas Carol still earning rave reviews.
You'd be hard pressed to find someone who isn't impressed by the skill and dedication of the world's best figure skaters, and when their talent is combined with timeless stories and popular music, what's not to like? It should come as no surprise that ice shows have become popular over the years - after all, where else can you find such a unique combination of theatrics and athletic skills?
Over the years, many shows have come and gone, but one constant has been the productions put on by Disney. While it originally started out as just a few varieties, Disney on Ice has grown considerably over the last couple decades, and today there is a show for fans of virtually any of the studio's most famous movies.
There are Disney on Ice shows dedicated to certain movies - from Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc to High School Musical and Beauty and the Best, but one of the newest ones - Treasure Trove - brings fans face to face with some of Disney's most well-known characters. The classics are all there, including Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, as are some of the more recent characters such as Simba, Ariel and everyone's favorite superheroes from The Incredibles.
Treasure Trove may offer all the characters you know and love, but Disney's Rockin' Ever After is perfect for families who are drawn to the latest characters in Disney's long-list of heroes. In fact, Rockin' Ever After is unique in that it's the first Disney production to feature Merida from the 2012 hit film Brave.
Naturally, Disney shows aren't the only ice spectaculars that have drawn crowds over the years, and one of the first to do so, Champions on Ice, is still going strong. It may not have the costumes and storylines of the Disney shows, but Champions on Ice performances are certainly not lacking when it comes to theatrics.
Not only are the Champions on Ice show captivating, but they feature some of the best-known names in the figure skating world. Among the familiar names, even to casual fans of the sport, include Irina Slutskaya, who captured a two Olympic medals (silver in 2002 and bronze in 2006) and Johnny Weir, who despite finishing sixth at the 2010 Olympics, is still a recognizable figure outside the sport.
In years past, it hasn't been unusual to see famous stage shows get made into movies. Everything from Mary Poppins and Glengarry Glen Ross to Chicago and Hairspray have made their way to the big screen. However, more recently the opposite has been true, with famous movies making their way to stage.
The most successful screen-to-stage move as of late is undoubtedly Once. It was originally released in 2006 as a low-budget indie flick starring Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard as a down-on-his-luck vacuum repairman with a dream for music stardom. The movie was a hit thanks in large part to its stellar soundtrack, which included the Academy Award winning song "Falling Slowly."
With such a compelling story and popular tunes, it's no wonder that Once was made into a musical on stage. Since it debuted in New York on 2011, the show has been an undeniable hit, and it's easy to see why since much of the music and story remained the same. In fact, it went on to win several 2012 Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Actor.
Once may not have had to change much to be brought to the stage, but that certainly was not the case with Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Though not strictly based on the 2002 blockbuster "Spider-Man," the musical, which was written by U2's Bono and The Edge, follows much of the same story - chiefly that it follows Peter Parker as Spider-Man through his battles with the evil Green Goblin.
Spider-Man was certainly an ambitious project, and it holds the distinction of being the most expensive Broadway show in history. But many audiences would it agree that the music and impressive visuals make the high price tag worth it.
Once and Spider-Man may be the latest examples of screen-to-stage shows, but one of the originals remains the most popular - The Lion King. The stage version of the 1994 Disney classic premiered back in 1997, and it has been a hit among audiences ever since.
Not only does the musical include the famous character and music from the film, including "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" and "Hakuna Matata," but it arguably has the best costumes of any musical production in Broadway history, with some of the more elaborate animal costumes requiring several actors to work.
Political campaigns provide some of the best fodder for comedians, commentators and satirists, and that has certainly been the case over the last decade. Whether it was Howard Dean's famous rant during the 2004 Democratic primaries, George W. Bush's well-known struggles with the English language, or John Kerry's confusion over the Boston Red Sox roster, the political landscape is ripe for parody, and the weeks leading up this year's November 6 election have been no different.
Though many commentators have blurred the line between comedian and pundit, there are some who have straddled it well, perhaps the most famous of which is Bill Maher. The former host of "Politically Incorrect" and current moderator on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," the left-leaning comedian has not abandoned his stand-up roots, and has filmed four HBO specials since 2005. It should come as no surprise, then, that he has a list of dates in the weeks leading up to the election, including one just days before it on October 28 in Bloomington, Indiana.
Much like Maher, Jon Stewart has made the transition from full-time stand-up to being a staple on cable TV, thanks to the immense success of his Comedy Central faux-news program "The Daily Show." Though presented in a tongue-in-cheek manner, his nightly rundown of the political world (and occasional take-down of Fox News) has turned out to be more popular than traditional shows and has changed the way some people, especially younger adults, consume news.
Though Stewart and Maher represent one end of the political spectrum, commentators on the other side have also risen in popularity, and many of them draw similarly huge crowds. Few are as visible as Bill O'Reilly. Host of the hit Fox News program "The O'Reilly Factor," Bill has also made a name for himself as an author, with books like "Pinhead and Patriots and Killing Lincoln," but while his speaking engagements lack the comedic timing of Stewart and Maher, they often draw similar-sized crowds.
Some political commentators thrive on creating controversy, and that is certainly the case for Ann Coulter. The right-wing author has attracted a fair amount of both scorn and praise for her hard-line opinions, but everyone can agree on one thing: she's never boring. A bestselling author (her books include catchy titles such as "Godless: The Church of Liberalism"), her speaking engagements have become just as famous as her appearances on cable news shows.
It may still be a few months off, but the winter theater season is fast approaching. Few things are better than escaping the cold for a few hours by watching your favorite musical, and this year there are plenty of shows both new and old that can capture the attention of even the most casual theater fan.
Few people are unfamiliar with the story of Mary Poppins, the magical nanny who was immortalized on film nearly 50 years ago by Julie Andrews. Over the last several years, the popular tale has made its way to the Broadway stage and has become a favorite show among musical fans of all kinds.
Picking up Mary Poppins tickets this holiday season will treat audience members young and old to some of the best tunes on Broadway including "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Step in Time," both of which you'll certainly recognize from the 1964 film.
The Lion King
Much like Mary Poppins, The Lion King is one of the most famous children's movies of the 20th century. The music, story and characters still resonate more than 18 years after the film hit theaters, and much of that is thanks to the stellar musical that debuted in 1997.
With music by Elton John, it's easy to see why fans have gone back and seen the show time and time again. The story of Simba and his path toward redemption is well-known and the tunes are just as pleasing (who can forget the words to "Hakuna Matata?") But what makes this musical is its stunning visuals, which include some of the most innovative costumes and sets ever to hit the stage.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular
You can't have the holiday season without the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Since 1933, the Christmas tradition has been a staple of the season and is one of the most beloved shows not just in New York City, but in the entire country.
The show runs just for a short time (this year it's November 9 through December 30) and features performances of some of the most beloved holiday classics such as "Sleigh Ride" and "Joy to the World." Of course, you can't forget about The Rockettes, who have been a staple of the show since its earliest days. This year is especially meaningful, as The Rockettes will be celebrating their 85th year in 2012.
Even before Christopher Nolan gave Batman a reboot with his critically acclaimed "Dark Knight" trilogy, the Caped Crusader already had risen to iconic status. Regardless of who played Batman, whether it be the campy turn of Adam West, the over-the-top portrayal by Val Kilmer or the more pensive slant offered by Christian Bale, the hooded crime-fighter still retains a place in pop culture history.
The story of Batman has been told in various types of media including movies, TV series, video games and even cartoons, but it got a new look when Batman Live launched last summer. The stage show proved to be quite popular upon its initial release and has been making its way around the globe ever since.
Batman Live offers a bit more of a unique glimpse into the story of Bruce Wayne and his secret identity. Much like how Nolan's "Batman Begins" examines his origins, Batman Live looks at how the crime fighter came to be, starting with the murder of his parents at the hands of masked gangsters.
Once he has transformed into Batman, Bruce Wayne becomes the guardian of Dick Grayson, whose parents were also murdered much like his own. Eventually, Bruce shares his secret identity with Dick, and the two team up to form Batman and Robin.
But our heroes are not the only ones with plenty of stage time in Batman Live. After all, what would the Dynamic Duo be without a long list of villains? Although the main antagonist is The Joker, fans will see everyone including Catwoman, the Riddler, the Penguin, Poison Ivy, Two-Face and Scarecrow, just to name a few.
Each production of Batman has added its own unique take on the character, whether it be Tim Burton's darkly comical version or George Clooney's more tongue-in-cheek portrayal. Batman Live also offers an unusual twist on the story by adding a few elements audiences have never seen before.
Where TV, movies and video games all focus on action, Batman Live includes more theatrical and circus elements to create a stage show that rivals similar productions such as Cirque du Soleil.
It's always good to reinvent longstanding stories, and Batman Live certainly does just that. While it provides a new look at the Caped Crusader, it still holds all the appeal of the comic book hero. The international hit had its world premier in Manchester, England, and will begin its United States tour on September 5, 2012. Debuting at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, the acrobatics packed show will feature many of the original supporting cast members on its U.S. leg, including celebrated performer Stefan Dermendjiev. Having originally trained as a circus performer in his native Bulgaria, Dermendjiev is known for his strength high-level of acrobatic skill. He brings to the U.S. tour the experience of the whole European tour.
Whether you are looking for family fun or a date night attraction, set your sights on this amazing show! Purchase your Batman Live tickets now!
Summer is often associated as being the best time for concerts, and while that's certainly the case for many people, others head to the theater. There are many big-name productions hitting the stage this summer that even the most casual thespian can appreciate. Here's a look at some of the best.
The Book of Mormon
This popular musical comes from the minds of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and while it may seem like their humor wouldn't translate well from cartoons to the stage, nothing could be further from the truth.
This spot-on satire of organized religion came to fruition after years of development and it was certainly worth the wait. Thanks to a catchy score written by Avenue Q composer Robert Lopez, The Book of Mormon won nine Tony Awards including Best Musical and also captured a Grammy award.
Based on 2006 film of the same name, Once has quickly become one of the most successful musicals in recent memory. The story centers around two down and out musicians who form a close relationship while deciding what direction their lives should go - all while creating some beautiful music of their own.
Once, which captured the 2012 Tony for Best Musical, is aided by the great soundtrack from the movie. Most notably, the production features the tune "Falling Slowly," which became a moderate hit for Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, who played the two protagonists in the film. Check out a taste of the soundtrack that made this musical a hit.
The Best Man
Penned by literary legend Gore Vidal, The Best Man returned to Broadway this summer and stars Will and Grace actor Eric McCormack. The story, which centers around the 1960 presidential election, seems especially topical in the runup to the 2012 election. In its original production, it went on to earn six Tony nominations, and this revival marks the first time its hit Broadway in more than 10 years.
The 1945 Pulitzer Prize winner remains one of the most unique plays around more than 65 years after its release. The story of Harvey follows Elwood P. Dowd, who seems like an ordinary man except for one thing: he claims to be friends with an enormous white rabbit nobody else can see. The latest production, which is running at New York's Studio 54, stars The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons in the lead role.
Whatever your favorite flavor of theater may be; Broadway, plays, opera or dance, hustle on over to TicketsNow to grab tickets for the best seats in the house.