REVIEW: Barnum at The Lowry

BARNUM, , Music - CY COLEMAN, Lyrics - MICHAEL STEWART , Book – Mark Bramble, Director – Timothy Shreader, Co- director – Liam Steel, Co – choreographer – Andrew Wright, Chichester Festival Theatre, 2013, Credit – Johan Persson/
AN exhilarating Broadway musical at the Lowry...

This exhilarating Broadway musical now on tour and showing at the Lowry for a limited period is about the irrepressible imagination and dreams of Phineas T Barnum, America’s greatest showman, who lit up the world with colour, warmth and the excitement of his imagination.

Even before the curtain rises the audience is engulfed by circus performers and the scene is set for the “greatest show on earth”, with a live orchestra and Brian Conley as PT Barnum engaging with the audience, ad libbing and earning laughs from the start.

Barnum’s life story unfolds at a steady pace. Prone to exaggeration, distortion and making a fast buck, he is of the opinion that people liked to be “humbugged”.

Entrepreneurial from an early age, Barnum’s route to fame is hit and miss until he “purchases” Joice Heith, purported to be a 160 year old Kentucky woman who had been George Washington’s nurse. With clever choreography and prosthetics you can almost believe Landi Oshinowo actually is that old.

Barnum walks an emotional tightrope in his relationship with his wife Chairy (Linzi Hateley), which is expressed in the song “I Like Your Style,” and with Jenny Lind, one of his performers.


He is far better at walking an actual tightrope-an act which Conley pulls off with aplomb. The audience breathed an audible sigh of relief when he made it safely to the far side of the high wire, and no doubt the insurance company did, too.

I was surprised that this is the first time Brian Conley has played the part of PT Barnum. His wit and charm make him perfect for the role.

The supporting cast were energetic and the acrobatic performances outstanding, with all the colours of the rainbow. 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.

Barnum, is a brilliant and uplifting show, a thoroughly entertaining evening and worthy of a standing ovation. See it while you can!!

Barnum is at The Lowry Theare until August 8th 2015.

Tickets from £28.00 – £50.00


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