Original Cast Recording
|Basis||The life of P. T. Barnum|
|Premiere||April 30, 1980 – St. James Theatre, New York City|
1981 West End
Barnum is a musical with a book by Mark Bramble, lyrics by Michael Stewart, and music by Cy Coleman. It is based on the life of showman P. T. Barnum, covering the period from 1835 through 1880 in America and major cities of the world where Barnum took his performing companies. The production combines elements of traditional musical theater with the spectacle of the circus. The characters include jugglers, trapeze artists and clowns, as well as such real-life personalities as Jenny Lind and General Tom Thumb.
The original Broadway production ran for 854 performances and was followed by a London production, among others.
- 1 Synopsis
- 2 Song list
- 3 Cast
- 4 Productions
- 5 Recording
- 6 Response
- 7 Awards and nominations
- 8 References
- 9 External links
In the middle of the 19th century, Phineas Taylor (PT) Barnum introduces his circus acts as he stands in front of a tent, proclaiming "There Is a Sucker Born Ev'ry Minute". He loves spectacle and excitement, using hype and "humbug" to promote his exhibits. His wife Charity disagrees with his use of "humbug" but loves him and aims to keep him grounded. Barnum then introduces the oldest woman alive, Joice Heth ("Thank God I'm Old"). His wife Charity ("Chairy") urges him to get a job in a factory, but Barnum refuses ("The Colors of My Life"). He enlists clowns to help in building a museum to house his attractions ("One Brick at a Time"). His star attraction, Tom Thumb, appears to advise that "Bigger Isn't Better". Barnum then becomes manager of the famous Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind ("Love Makes Such Fools of Us All"). Barnum becomes enamoured of her and sees the attraction of going on tour with her ("Out there"). He accompanies Jenny on tour, leaving Charity behind, as a marching band greets them ("Come Follow the Band"). Although all seems to be going well for Barnum, he finds that without Charity in his life he is miserable, and he decides to break ties with Jenny and return home to the woman he loves. Upon his return to Charity, he promises to live the more sedate life she desires for him, in "Black and White." When his political campaign looks doomed to fail due to lack of interest, Charity realises how important his talents and passion are in his life, and allows him to inject colour and life into his campaign. The two of them recognise the value in each other's approach to life and how they complement one another. But his beloved Charity dies suddenly, leaving Barnum bereft and alone. When Barnum finds himself humbugged by his political party, he laments his position ("Prince of Humbug")and wishes to "shine a light in a dark world". James Anthony Bailey arrives and offers him the chance to "Join the Circus". Initially resisting he relents and joins Bailey, and they form the famous circus Barnum and Bailey.
- Original Broadway Cast
- Phineas Taylor Barnum - Jim Dale
- Charity (Chairy) Barnum - Glenn Close
- Ringmaster - William C. Witter
- Joice Heth - Terri White
- Jenny Lind - Marianne Tatum
- General Tom Thumb - Leonard John Crofoot
- Amos Scudder - Kelly Walters
- James Bailey - William C. Witter
- Chester Lyman - Terrence Mann
- Mr. Stratton - Dirk Lumbard
- Mrs. Stratton - Sophie Schwab
- Julius Goldschmidt - William C. Witter
- Lady Plate Balancer - Catherine Carr
- Lady Juggler - Barbara Nadel
- Baton Twirler - Sophie Schwab
- Chief Bricklayer - Edward T. Jacobs
- White-Faced Clown - Andy Teirstein
- One Man Band - Steven Michael Harris
- Wilton - Bruce Robertson
- Edgar Templeton - Kelly Walters
- Humbart Morrissey - Terrence V. Mann
- Lady Aerialist - Robbi Morgan
Original Broadway Production
The original production opened at the St. James Theatre on Broadway, on April 30, 1980 and closed on May 16, 1982 after 854 performances and 26 previews. It was directed and choreographed by Joe Layton, with scenic design by David Mitchell, costume design by Theoni V. Aldredge, and lighting design by Craig Miller. The musical starred Jim Dale as P.T. Barnum, Glenn Close as Charity Barnum, Marianne Tatum as Jenny Lind, Terri White as Joice Heth, and Terrence Mann as Chester Lyman.
Original London Production
The show made its West End debut on June 11, 1981 at the London Palladium, where it ran for 655 performances. The London cast included Michael Crawford as P.T. Barnum, Deborah Grant as Charity Barnum and Sarah Payne as Jenny Lind. Crawford reprised his role opposite Eileen Battye in a UK Tour of the show which ran between 1984 and 1986, stopping off at various venues including the Manchester Opera House and Victoria Palace Theatre. The tour was recorded for television and broadcast by the BBC in 1986. It was later released on VHS and DVD.
2013 Chichester Festival Theatre Revival
Two-time Tony Award-nominee Christopher Fitzgerald starred in Cameron Mackintosh's new production of the show at the Chichester Festival Theatre from 15 July to 31 August 2013. The show was not be performed at the Festival Theatre due to its refurbishment. Instead, it was performed in the Theatre in the Park, which is near the Festival Theatre. It was directed by Timothy Sheader, co-directed and choreographed by Liam Steel and co-choreographed by Andrew Wright, set design by Scott Pask, costume design by Paul Wills, lighting design by Paule Constable, sound design by Mick Potter and circus consultancy by Vicki Amedume. Alongside Christopher Fitzgerald as P.T. Barnum was Tamsin Carroll as Chairy Barnum, Anna O'Byrne as Jenny Lind, Aretha Ayeh as Joice Heth and Jack North as Tom Thumb.
The production was revised by Cameron Mackintosh and Mark Bramble with a new number, Barnum's Lament, replacing The Prince of Humbug, slight revisions elsewhere and new orchestrations by William David Brohn. The following musical numbers were listed in the programme for the production (although many of the chases were still used) :
- There is a Sucker Born Ev'ry Minute - Barnum
- Thank God I'm Old - Joice Heth
- The Colors of My Life - Chairy and Barnum
- One Brick at a Time - Chairy and Ensemble
- Museum Song - Barnum
- I Like Your Style - Chairy and Barnum
- Bigger isn't Better - Tom Thumb and Ensemble
- Love Makes Such Fools of Us All - Jenny Lind
- Out There - Barnum
- Come Follow The Band - Barnum and Ensemble
- Love Makes Such Fools of Us All (Reprise) - Jenny Lind
- Black and White - Chairy, Barnum and Ensemble
- I Like Your Style - The Colours of My Life (Reprise) - Chairy and Barnum
- Barnum's Lament - Barnum
- Join the Circus - Barnum, Bailey and Ensemble
- Finale - Barnum
This production is set to be reworked for a UK tour starring Brian Conley starting 2014.
The Original Broadway Cast recording was released in 1980 and reissued on October 25, 1990 by Sony. The London cast album "Michael Crawford in Barnum" was released on January 1, 1994 by Musicrama, Inc. The original Madrid cast album (starring Emilio Aragón) was released in 1984 by BAT Discos S.A. Now a collector's item, this Spanish language recording has never been released on CD.
An Australian cast recording was released starring Reg Livermore by RCA Victor.
According to Don Wilmeth, Barnum "was blessed with a brilliant production by director-choreographer Joe Layton, who turned the theatre into a circus, and a memorable performance by Jim Dale."
Thomas Hischak wrote: "Joe Layton directed and choreographed with inventive and colorful theatrics, and [Jim] Dale endeared himself to audiences by singing, dancing, walking a tightrope, clowning, and riding a unicycle, most of which had nothing to do with anything. Critics carped but playgoers knew a fun show when they saw one so the show ran for 854 performances."
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|1980||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Book of a Musical||Mark Bramble||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Jim Dale||Won|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Glenn Close||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Joe Layton||Nominated|
|Best Scenic Design||David Mitchell||Won|
|Best Costume Design||Theoni V. Aldredge||Won|
|Best Lighting Design||Craig Miller||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Musical||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music||Cy Coleman||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Jim Dale||Won|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||Joe Layton||Nominated|
|Outstanding Set Design||David Mitchell||Nominated|
|Theatre World Award||Marianne Tatum||Won|
Original London production
|1981||Laurence Olivier Award||Best New Musical||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Musical||Michael Crawford||Won|
|Outstanding Achievement in a Musical||The Staging||Nominated|
- Wilmeth, Don B. (2000, Volume 3). The Cambridge History of American Theatre. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-66959-6, p. 455
- Hischak, Thomas S. (2008). The Oxford Companion to the American Musical. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 0-19-533533-3, p. 51
- Barnum plot summary & character descriptions from StageAgent.com
- Barnum at the Internet Broadway Database
- Barnum show page at Tams-Witmark Music Library, Inc.
- nodanw synopsis
- New York Times review, November 28, 1982