Delivering an ovation-worthy performance involves much more than just acting. Learn how costumes, lighting, music and special effects help to bring the stage to life.


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The Magical Art of Cambodian Shadow Puppetry Has Entertained for Centuries

The tiny Southeast Asian country of Cambodia has achieved a worldwide reputation for perfecting the art of shadow puppetry. But the practice is in danger of dying out.

10 Groundbreaking Broadway Musicals

From "Showboat" to "Hamilton," each of these 10 shows pushed the musical genre forward in some way. Did your favorite show make the list?

A High-stepping History of the Rockettes

The famed New York City dance troupe has been kicking its way into our hearts since the early 1930s. But they didn't get their start in the Big Apple.

Cirque du Soleil: Masters of Performance and … Water Filtration?

It's not enough to feature death-defying acts in your show. Sometimes you need a 50-foot waterfall onstage, too.

The Complicated Relationship Between Men and Dancing

Pressures to seem macho can leave men off the dance floor — but it depends on the culture.

Hold Thy Horses: Shakespeare's First Folio Is Touring the U.S.

The First Folio is pretty much thee book that gave us Shakespeare. And now you may be able to see it for yourself.

How Burlesque Works

A true burlesque performance doesn't have to depend on taking off clothes. It's about telling a story. Whether a leg or something more is the final "reveal," the audience should be pleased if the story is well-told. That's the beauty of burlesque.

Gen Con 2012 Costumes

Gen Con is a huge gaming convention held every year in Indianapolis, Ind. And, just like many cons, it's a home for great costumes.

Costumes 101 Pictures

They're at every sci-fi convention and Halloween party -- those people who always have the most amazing, original costumes. Learn the basics of building a costume and find out what it takes to do well in costume competitions.

Dragon*Con 2010: Costume Pictures

One highlight of Dragon*Con is always the hundreds of fans walking around dressed as their favorite characters. See pictures of a few of our favorite costumes at Dragon*Con 2010.

Dragon*Con: Historical & Steampunk Costumes

Fan conventions are a costumer's paradise, and the fun isn't limited to superheroes, aliens and elves. Historical and alternate history costumes have their own place, as these pictures from Dragon*Con 2010 show.

10 Most Important Ballet Terms

Accomplished ballet dancers make their graceful feats look effortless. Of course, that means we don't notice the hard work that make them look easy -- or the terms to match those moves. Want to learn the meanings of those fancy French words?

How the Theatre Development Fund Works

If you've been to a Broadway show in the last four decades, there's a good chance you bought a discounted ticket at a TKTS booth. If so, you can thank the Theatre Development Fund for your low-cost ticket.

How the Metropolitan Opera Works

The Metropolitan Opera was established more than 100 years ago and hosts more than 200 performances each season. Find out how the Met got its start, and how technology has kept the performing arts alive.

How the National Symphony Orchestra Works

It's not the oldest professional musical organization in America, or the largest, or even the first symphony orchestra to be based in the nation's capital. But the National Symphony Orchestra is a cornerstone of America's orchestral composing and performing arts scene.

How the American Ballet Theatre Works

For the past 70 years, the American Ballet Theatre has brought the best in dance theater to people around the world. What's the storied (and sometimes stormy) history of the ABT?

How Stage Managers Work

Your favorite plays go off without a hitch because of a hard-working stage manager. Read this article to learn more about the responsibilities of a stage manager.

How Improv Everywhere Works

Improv Everywhere is many things: A stage for the stageless; a script for struggling actors who have yet to take Broadway by storm; an attempt to get New Yorkers to remove their earbuds -- which is not as easy as it might seem.

How Science Fiction Musicals Work

The staff here at HowStuffWorks started thinking about what might happen when musicals mesh with science fiction and fantasy. Find out what we discovered about the real and the more theoretical sci-fi musicals.

How the One Man Star Wars Trilogy Works

Surely this is some sort of stereotypical uber-nerd who decided to take his obsession on the road. Not quite -- the creator of "One Man Star Wars" is well-versed in both acting and directing. But can a Star Wars fan go too far?

How Cirque du Soleil Works

In only 20 years, Cirque du Soleil has carved out a unique niche in the entertainment industry. It has spread to cities all over the globe and earned rave reviews every step of the way. Go behind the scenes of Cirque du Soleil and learn the secrets of its success.

How do fog machines work?

You've probably seen them at Halloween parties, dance clubs and stage productions. How does a machine generate thick amounts of fog, and is it safe to breathe?