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Sunday, April 7, 2013

BARNUM

"Barnum" (Mercury Theatre): Less Circus, More Narration


from:  chicagonow.com
by Katy Walsh
April 6, 2013
Mercury Theater Chicago presents BARNUM.  P.T. Barnum (1810-1891) is a name associated with circus, specifically; the Ringling Bros’ Barnum & Bailey Circus.  Interestingly, Barnum didn’t throw his hat into the ring until age 61.  Even before he became the ringmaster, Barnum had a colorful life.  He was a showman, con artist, entrepreneur and politician.  He boasted a museum of human oddities, including; the smallest man, the oldest woman and the Feejee mermaid.  He had a wife named Charity and a leading lady named Jenny Lind.  This show is described in the playbill as ‘a musical suggested by the life of P.T. Barnum.’  BARNUM is less of a three ring circus and more of a man-behind-the-big-top narration.
With a name like BARNUM, I expected a spectacle.  And I was curious to see how the intimate Mercury Theatre would stage death-defying feats.  Although there are bursts of mini circus acts sprinkled throughout the show and ten minutes of full-on carnie-inspired pandemonium, BARNUM is more about the perceived influences in P.T.’s life leading up to founding a circus. Mark Bramble wrote the book as a personal contemplation. Gene Weygandt (Barnum) delivers the long orations as a charismatic virtuoso.  The role is perfect for Weygandt’s natural exuberance.  He swindles the audience in to rooting for his success despite his humbug methodologies.  Although the show is pretty focused on the man himself, the steadfast Cory Goodrich (Charity) and the alluring Summer Naomi Stuart (Jenny) lend their vocal talents for memorable melodies.  Goodrich sings a wistful rendition of “Colors of my life” while Stuart delivers a splendid aria in “Love makes such fools of us.”
read more:
http://www.chicagonow.com/the-fourth-walsh/2013/04/barnum-mercury-theatre-less-circus-more-narration/

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