Book by Mark Bramble lyrics by Michael Stewart music by Cy Coleman revised version by Cameron Masckintosh and Mark Bramble..
Theatre in the Park Oaklands Park PO19 6AP To 31 August 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
BSL Signed 22 Aug 7.30pm.
Captioned 31 Aug 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
Tickets: 01243 781312.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 26 July.
Dynamic, athletic Barnum and Bailey world.
Here he is, part-revealed….. THE true American hero. Enterprising entrepreneur, never-say-die, up-on-his-feet, hitting-the-ground-running: – Phineas Taylor BA-ARNUM. The best bar none.
Not fire, not bankruptcy could stop him. The emperor of ersatz over echt, for whom excitement makes life matter, and there’s a sucker born (as a song here has it, in words probably coined by a Barnum opponent) every minute.
Minutes exist to give birth to suckers; not for Barnum the clockmaker’s career his family suggested. Regularity and reliability weren’t the Barnum way.
He understood what people wanted. His fakes were genuine exciters of curiosity. It’s worth a few cents to look and believe it could all be true.
In its impressionistic approach Barnum, even in this revised version, doesn’t finally examine what made the showman tick. His most important partnership, with his wife Charity (a sympathetic Tamsin Carroll), who brought sense and her own suckering trick to his career, is evident, as are the conflicts between commitment to her and seeking-out fresh acts.
But the months Phineas spent away promoting Swedish opera-singer Jenny Lind are left blank, as are details of the time he turned to the showbiz of politics, but with serious radical policies.
Throughout Christopher Fitzgerald’s active Barnum is haunted by an empty Ringmaster’s suit, supported by several actors. Eventually he dons it as he joins James Bailey in creating their circus. Finally, Barnum exits alone, his showy garb, rather than he, left spotlit centre-stage.
The show might focus on Barnum’s career rather than psychology too much to be the greatest show on earth, but directors Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel ensure a good time will be had by all, with fine in singing and dancing (co-choreographer Andrew Wright)
And athleticism; after all the routines and tableaux, almost casually in the final moments the company choreography’s topped-off with ensemble member Erin Jameson somersaulting in the air.
Add Paule Constable’s rich lighting palette and the show matches the elegant tented Theatre in the Park, making its own virtue of temporary necessity as the Festival Theatre’s renewed. It really does seem Jonathan Church’s Chichester can do no wrong.
Phineas T Barnum: Christopher Fitzgerald.
Chairy Barnum: Tamsin Carroll.
Miss Lyman: Rachael Archer.
Joice Heth: Aretha Ayeh.
Mr Sherwood Stratton/Humbert Morrissey: Nick Butcher.
Wilton: Leon Cooke.
Swings: Jacquie Biggs, Jon-Scott Clark, Faith-Louise Francis, Mitch Leow.
Ensemble: Sophie Gamble, Stefan Dermendjiev, Chris Gage, Jack Horner, Erin Jameson, Jasmine Kerr, Michaela O’Connor, Tom Scanlon, Lucie-Mae Sumner, Robert Tregoning.
Julius Goldschmidt: A C Garcica.
Mrs Sherwood Stratton: Trina Hill.
Tom Thumb: Jack North.
Jenny Lind: Anna O’Byrne.
James A Bailey: James O’Connell.
Amos Scudder/Edgar Templeton: Max Parker.
Director: Timothy Sheader.
Director/Choreographer: Liam Steel.
Designer: Scott Park.
Lighting: Paule Constable.
Sound: Mick Potter.
Orchestration: William David Brohn.
Musical Director: Adam Rowe.
Musical Supervisor: Stephen Brooker.
Co-choreographer: Andrew Wright.
Circus consultant: Vicki Amedume.
Illusionist: Richard Pinner.
Dialect coach: Jill McCullough.
Associate director: Jean-Pierre van der Spuy.
Associate designer: Lone Schacksen.
Associate lighting: Rob Casey.
Associate sound: Adam Fisher.
Assistant musical director: Mark Bousie.