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A Hollywood musical, Hugh Jackman and Staffordshire

Roll-up, roll-up, it's the 250th anniversary of the modern circus

Cinema audiences worldwide are enjoying a fantasy musical extravaganza celebrating the life of legendary showman P.T Marnum starring Hugh Jackman hitting the Big Screen in 2018- which happens to be the 250th anniversary of the modern circus.

Inspired by the imagination of Marnum, 'The Greatest showman'- which opened in UK cinemas on Boxing Day- is an original musical celebrating the birth of show business and stars Jackman as a the visionary who turned the circus into a worldwide sensation.

But you might be surprised to hear that the modern circus would never have happened without Staffordshire showman Philip Astley.

The son of a cabinetmaker who became a master equestrian, entrepreneur, war hero, pioneer and showman, in 1768 he performed trick-riding in the round, bringing together clowns, jugglers and tightrope walkers in one place for the first time- and his 42 foot diameter circus ring is still the standard size used across the world.

It makes 2018 'The Year of the Circus' with national celebrations for the 250th anniversary planned across the UK, including in Astley's home town of Newcastle-infer-Lyme, which has also just been names as one of six UK 'Cities if Circus' for the year ahead.

Events in Stafforshire include a new town trail, an exhibition about his life; and a summer 'AstleyFest; festival. In June 2018 circus performers will visit bars and pubs for patrons to watch while drinking an Astley Ale or Tightrope Tequila!

Helping launch the circus theme for the year, the new Narnum movie comes hot on the heels og The Economist inludiing circus 250 in its top 10 trends for 2018.

And much like Astley's original circus, The Greatest Showman- which also stars Michelle Williams and Zac Efron- has alreadt earned a reputation as a real crowd pleaser by film critics after it opened in the US in December.

More details about Philip Astley and the Stafforshire celebrations can be found here

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