Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Barnum, Chichester Festival Theatre, Theatre in the Park, July 2013

First I will admit that I had no idea what Barnum was about before I went, I assumed it was about a circus but apart from that I was clueless.

I love musicals and I didn't think I would hate it, there are very few I do, but I didn't know if it would be my thing.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a real old school musical much like 42nd Street or Mary Poppins. From start to finish it was excellent and the fact it was in a big tent made it feel all the more special.

Barnum is part of Chichester Festival Theatre's summer programme and was staged in the Theatre in the Park as work is carried out on the building.
It follows the story of Phineas T Barnum, America's Greatest Showman, through his life and his marriage to his wife Chairy. I also didn't know before that he was a real person and that Barnum and Bailey's Circus - the Greatest Show on Earth was a real thing.

By far my favourite songs were 'Come join the band' and 'Black and white', the set up on stage and the musical performance was just spot on.

The show is full of glitz and tricks, with acrobatics, flame throwers, work on ropes and so much more. The dancers must be really strong the amount of throwing, catching and holding each other the way they do, it is phenomenal.
There is an elephant at one point which the way they have done it is just great. It got a lot of cheers and laughs.
Also at one point in the show Barnum carries out a tight rope walk, and he did it in one go. My friend had been the previous week and said it had taken three attempts and in the end he just went along the bottom. But I am so glad that he did it for us.
The show is a Cameron Mackintosh production so you know that he has a hit on his hands, co-produced with the Chichester Festival Theatre.

Christopher Fitzgerald plays P T Barnum a rising star on Broadway, he has so much charisma and charm that you fall under his spell. Tamsin Carroll plays Chairy is excellent and makes her more than just 'his wife' and doesn't hide in the shadow of the big performer Barnum.

This is just a really good, toe-tapping, old school musical and I really couldn't recommend it enough, and really don't want to give away too much as you really need to see it to believe it.
With previous Festival Theatre productions going on to be West End hits (Singin' in the Rain and Sweeney Todd) I don't doubt for a second that this one will follow it their footsteps.
For more information here is the website -
http://www.cft.org.uk/barnum It is due to close at the end of August.
‘Barnum’s the name, P T Barnum, and I want to tell you that tonight, on this stage, you are going to see - bar none - every sight, wonder and miracle that name stands for!’

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