Barnum set to make grand entrance at Chichester

Barnum set to make grand entrance at Chichester

Updated On: May 1, 2018
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    Cameron Mackintosh's BARNUM has begun previews at the Chichester Festival Theatre ahead of opening night 24 July. This will be the first full-scale UK revival that the musical has seen since its original West End run in 1981. Back then it starred the Michael Crawford, who won the Olivier for Best Actor for his performance as Phineas T. Barnum.

    This time at Chichester, two-time Tony Award nominee Christopher Fitzgerald will fill the shoes of America's Greatest Showman, which The Telegraph described as “one of the most challenging [roles] in musical theatre.” The entire cast has undergone intensive circus training to master a range of skills from stilt walking and juggling to aerial wok and whip cracking - not least Fitzgerald, who has to act and sing while balancing on a tightrope.

    Co-director and choreographer Liam Steel hopes to meld choreography and circus skills, having worked with such performance groups as Frantic Assembly, Complicité (The Magic Flute), DV8 Physical Theatre and Cirque du Soleil. With BARNUM, he wants to create “something new and original that audiences haven’t seen before in mainstream musical theatre.”

    The musical explores Barnum's life and marriage, revealing that his wife Chairy (played by Tamsin Carroll) was the practical one who made his dreams come true, until he finally teamed up with J.A. Bailey to create Barnum and Bailey's Circus.

    A smash-hit when it opened on Broadway in 1980, BARNUM starred Glenn Close and Jim Dale, and won three Tonys and a Drama Desk Award. Cy Coleman's wonderfully exuberant score includes the hits “Come Follow The Band”, “The Colours Of My Life” and “There's A Sucker Born Ev’ry Minute”.

    If it can catch the imaginations of theatregoers with opening night a week away, the BARNUM big top in Chichester could very well become a travelling circus and end up on the West End stage again.