Barnum: Review

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The Newcastle Operatic Society presents the classic musical, Barnum at the Repertory Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent.  

James Freeman’s direction on the much-loved musical combined with Gareth Ridge’s accommodating choreography brings the musical alive.   

Barnum is an American musical based in 1835 through to 1880 following a performer Phineas Taylor Barnum and his travelling circus.   

Being an American play, I thought that the cast would attempt a poor American accent, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  

The whole cast have what seems to be an almost natural American accent thus keeping the musical’s originality. Maisy Hepburn’s Swedish accent is especially convincing.  

The musical starts off in the main ring with a colourful setting, while fantastic props, ranging from circus ribbons to an elephant (obviously not a real one), bring the magic of Barnum to life.  

Robert Lawton’s outstanding performance playing Barnum has the whole audience in laughter and applause.  

Lawton’s extraordinary skills don’t just shine through his voice, no! He wows the audience with skills including juggling, dancing and even walking the tightrope! 

Of course, he isn’t the only one who performs amazing tricks, some of the clowns even walk around the stage on stilts. 

Elena Fox (Joice Heth) and Laura Kate Harvey’s (Chairy Barnum) performances are equally outstanding, showing off the sensational talent that the Repertory has to offer.  

Lawton and Harvey’s duet of ‘the colours of my life’ highlights the chemistry between the two and tears real emotion through the audience. 

The comedy theme is evident throughout both acts and is commonly used by Barnum: “It’s half a wife’s job, bringing up things a husband doesn’t want to hear.” 

The cast at the Repertory Theatre sure set the bar very high. And, despite a few technical issues with the sound system on Wednesday night, the whole cast gave an exceptional act. 

Barnum is on at the Repertory Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent until Saturday the 21 of October 2017.  

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