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Barnum

Theatre Royal where a great 'Barnum' was performed!

Theatre Royal where a great ‘Barnum’ was performed!

Barnum at the Theatre Royal, Norwich

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 6 March 2015

Circus overflows with razzmatazz and spectacle. Musical theatre entertains, delights and stirs us through dance, drama, music and lavish laughter.

If we add outstanding singing, quality choreography, production by showbiz maestro Cameron Mackintosh and starring roles from multitalented Brian Conley and Linzi Hateley, then we have a sure-fire smash hit, available until 14th March.

Based on the life of irrepressible showman PT Barnum in the mid 1880s as he explored his dreams of mass entertainment, this traditional love musical combines jugglers, trapeze artists and clowns together with real personalities General Tom Thumb and Jenny Lind.

The song catalogue includes gems like There Is a Sucker Born Ev’ry Minute; Thank God I’m Old, One Brick at a Time, Love Makes Such Fools of Us All, The Colours of My Life and Join the Circus.

The ensemble is tight with some standout delights of acrobatics. Direction is superb; it’s hard not to stomp along with the exuberance. The band is outstanding.

The high energy spotlight belongs to the versatile Conley as Barnum and Hateley as Chiary, his down-to-earth wife who at one points wishes he’d get a clock factory job but takes him back after he falls for soprano Jenny.

There’s powerful audience rapport as we share the pain of showbiz struggles, the joys of success and the damaged personal relationships experienced by many great performers. He even tries politics – ‘politics is showbiz.’

Barnum finally establishes a three-ring circus with JA Bailey – ‘the greatest show on earth’ – a label that resonates to this day. This is showbiz at its best. Prepare to laugh, cry and marvel in equal measure.

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