Review: Barnum
5.0Overall Score

The circus is in town this week as Cameron Mackintosh’s Barnum sets up its big top on the stage of Wolverhampton Grand Theatre.

A truly heart-warming tale which follows the adventures of Phineas T Barnum as he sets out to become the greatest showman in America. Accompanied by his incredibly supportive wife, Chairy, Barnum tours the US looking for new talent to join his show. Along the way he meets the world’s smallest man, largest elephant and oldest woman. Still not certain that he has that big show stopper, Barnum recruits the sensational Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind, who has her eyes on something other than fame and glory.

Barnum is a real rollercoaster of emotions, leaving you in fits of hysterics one minute then quietly wiping away tears the next. Filled with some rather outstanding circus feats, Barnum really does have you on the edge of your seat as you begin to build a bond with the showman whose passion to entertain is intoxicating.

When I first saw that Brian Conley was playing the lead role of Barnum I did have some reservations, however I can say hand-on-heart I was completely wrong. Conley was born to play the role of Barnum. His personality bursts out in an array of colour, enabling the audience to not only share in the highs but also the lows.

Conley’s performance is only enhanced by West End star, Linzi Hateley who plays Barnum’s wife, Chairy. The pair share a deep emotional connection, which you can really feel. Not to mention her sublime vocals on songs such as The Colours Of My Life and I Like Your Style. Chairy’s practicality is the Yin to Barnum’s unpredictable Yang.

Filled to the brim with all manner of circus stunts, which Conley even has a go at himself including fire eating and the high-wire, Barnum leaves you with a smile on face time after time. Having been first performed over 30 years ago on Broadway, Barnum still has a lot of life in it and will continue to entertain for many years to come I’m sure.

Performing at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 31st January, Barnum is a true spectacle that should not be missed.

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About The Author

Editor at large of Polaroids and Polar Bears, PR bod and not-so-secret geek. Chris established Polaroids and Polar Bears in 2013.