2007 – Barnum

The circus came to town this week – Northumberland Gazette – March 2007.

The circus came to town this week to help celebrate 20 years of musicals in Alnwick. Jugglers, clowns and acrobats filled the playhouse to mark a milestone anniversary for Alnwick Stage Musical Society.

Barnum tells the story of the Prince of Humbug, Phineas Taylor Barnum and his attempts to create a show made up of freaks of society against the wishes of his long suffering wife Chairy. The so-called freaks include a 160 year-old woman and the smallest man alive. The musical traces Barnum’s career until he joins James A Bailey to form the circus which was justly called “The Greatest Show on Earth”.

Barnum was expertly played by Fraser Wood. He brought razzmatazz to the role and his confidence filled the stage. But we got to see the softer side to him when we was with Chairy – portrayed by Kathleen Sheel, a star of the show. The husband and wife banter was true to life and their duets were heartwarming. Tom Thumb’s (Susan Hutton) rendition of Bigger Isn’t Better was very good and the two people on stilts illustrated how small he was. Grace Niven was excellent as Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind as was Christine Trotter with her performance of Black and White.

It wouldn’t have been Barnum without a big top full of tricks. The clowns (especially the ones with pink curly-haired wigs) were excellent and the cast are to be congratulated for learning juggling, plate-spinning and throwing and catching bricks during One Brick at at Time. The amazing set was like the inside of a circus tent – so many colours to rival and amazing technicolour dreamcoat.

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