Original Cast Recording
|Basis||The life of P. T. Barnum|
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.
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 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 circus collection ("One Brick at a Time"). His star attraction, Tom Thumb, appears to advise that "Bigger Isn't Better". However, when the famous Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind is hired, Barnum becomes enamoured of her ("Love Makes Such Fools of Us All"). He accompanies Jenny on tour, leaving Charity behind, as a marching band greets them ("Come Follow the Band"). Barnum finally returns home to Charity, and promises to live in "Black and White." As he presents his circus acts around the world, Barnum resists joining with another circus owner, James Anthony Bailey. Finally, after his beloved wife Charity dies, he relents and joins Bailey, and they form the famous circus Barnum and Bailey.
 Song list
- 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
- Tom Thumb - Leonard John Crofoot
- Amos Scudder - Kelly Walters
- James Bailey - William C. Witter
- Chester Lyman - Terrence V. 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
- 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 will star in Cameron Mackintosh's new production of the show opening at the Chichester Festival Theatre from 15 July to 31 August 2013. The show will not be performed at the Festival Theatre due to its current development. Instead, it will be performed in the Theatre in the Park, which is near the Festival Theatre.
 Other productions
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|
- Barnum plot summary & character descriptions from StageAgent.com
- Barnum at the Internet Broadway Database
- Tams-Witmark synopsis
- nodanw synopsis
- New York Times review, November 28, 1982