Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentlemen. Come to the theatre and experience the life story of P.T Barnum. A showman and illusionist of the truth, who toured the world with circus style acts which may not have always been completely honest (the oldest woman in the world at 160 years may have been slightly embellished to sell tickets).
In the show we see the ups and downs of Barnum’s relationship with his wife Chairy – as well as Opera singer Jenny Lind (whom Barnum brought over to America for a series of concerts as she was said to have the most beautiful voice in the world) and dwarf Tom Thumb. Both of which became well known attractions under the management of Barnum.
Brian Conley plays the role of Barnum well (despite not managing to successfully walk the tightrope) with comedy and a twinkle in his eye. His crooner style voice suited the songs and he was well complemented by Linzi Hateley who played his wife Chairy. The ensemble of the cast were talented acrobats and filled the stage to create a circus feel. Landi Oshinowo gave a lovely rendition of ‘Thank God I’m Old’ as Joice Heth and Mikey Jay-Heath gave a cute performance of Tom Thumb.
With great catchy songs like ‘There’s a Sucker Born Ev’ry Minute’, ‘The Colours Of My Life’ and the fast paced ‘Museum Song’ Barnum has some great music in it and the Broadway cast recording with Jim Dale is one of my favourites.
Barnum isn’t the greatest story in the world but he was an iconic figure in history (his museum featured the first ever Aquarium in America) and his legacy is nicely portrayed. The circus look and feel was good although I would have liked it to pack more of a punch and have more of a ‘wow’ factor than it did.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Michael Le Poer Trench