Posted 21 July 2013 - 01:05 PM
It's very odd I agree how there's no mention of Crawford. I watched the old tv recording of him as Barnum and he's everything this versions missing.. A STAR performance. His performance is packed with tricks and moments that could go wrong and he truly is a show man.. Why revive it if you haven't got a lead who can begin to match or exceed how it's been done before?
Posted 21 July 2013 - 01:09 PM
I'll be very interested to see how this is received and if the transfer goes ahead.
I like the show logo though.. More exciting than the show.
Posted 21 July 2013 - 02:50 PM
Who dare tell the lambs in Spring what fate the later season brings?
Posted 21 July 2013 - 04:03 PM
Posted 22 July 2013 - 06:03 AM
Posted 23 July 2013 - 05:37 AM
The tent is fabulous outside - especially on a warm summers evening, but where were the clowns, the stilt walkers, the balloons the fire eaters, entertaining the crowds outside? We might as well be going to see Hamlet for all the circus atmosphere.
Inside the tent is equally fabulous but why put on the "circus" musical Barnum and not use the tent or the space at all? Clearly a transfer to a traditional theatre was envisaged from the start of the production process as all we have is a proc arch production placed on a thrust stage. All the musical numbers are staged "face front" so 40% of the audience at the sides just gets a profile view as if seeing the show from the wings. What a wasted opportunity!
The staging is minimal and it must be a design decision to make all the costumes in muted colours and the holes in the girls tights deliberate, but it just looks cheap and lacks colour, sparkle and glitz. The ensemble (bless them) rushed around from one position to the next being chairs, tables, trees and stairs which someone must have thought was clever but again just looked cheap. Perhaps they blew all the production budget on the tent? There were some very awkward and difficult moments where principle cast members were required to sit and stand on planks as if they were stairs. Charity Barnum was required at one point to climb the steps of city hall (planks held by ensemble members) which looked not only difficult for the actress but downright perilous! The entrance of Jenny Lind on a plank ( just don't ask ) was dreadful and should be cut immediately.
But this show stands or falls by the leading role. I have rarely seen such a poor performance from a leading man. The show needs a star who has charm and charisma who can carry the audience and the company along. But here Christopher Fitzgerald simply has not got the physical or theatrical presence to carry it off at all.
The infamous tight rope walk is poorly staged. Barnum does not just do the tight rope walk for the fun of it. He is walking the tight rope of life towards the perilous affair with Jenny Lind who in the original production was at the end of the wire to reward him with a kiss signalling the start of their affair. Here she is placed upstage of the wire merely as an observer of the superfluous trick. He fell off once and completed the trip the second time much to the relief of the clearly tense company. I am not a circus expert but the wire is assembled so quickly I was not sure if the tension was correct. Clearly if the wire in not tight enough it wobbles making the walk much more difficult. As the wire is diagonal across the stage Fitzgerald has the audience in his sight line at the end of it too which must be distracting. For me if you have not got a "star" performer to do this part you simply do not do the show! But to be fair he is cruelly exposed by the direction which leaves him wandering around a bare stage too much.
The rest of the cast have underwritten roles and make no impression apart from Tamsin Carrol who is sweet as Charity Barnum. But there are no older actors employed and so some supporting older roles are played by youngsters, giving some scenes no gravitas or depth and making the show look like an end of term college production.
The sound was muted too - especially in the company numbers despite the obvious click tracking.
There were some moments which took off - Bigger Isn't Better with Tom Thumb - the best number of the evening and Black and White where mercifully the cast changed their dull costumes into rather splendid black and white ones , but even the finale which did at least have some colour was botched.
Sometimes with creative teams the magic happens as it has so many times at Chichester recently but not on this occasion. It will be interesting to see how the show gets reviewed at press night on Wednesday but I cannot seeing it getting 5 stars unless the critics are plied with plenty of Pimms!
Posted 23 July 2013 - 07:15 AM
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