That's Show Biz!
Seven years in the making, The Greatest Showman was worth waiting for. When I first heard that Hugh Jackman decided to do this musical, I thought it was going to be a screen adaptation of a Broadway show with a similar title. Fortunately, this new version is an original musical complete with new songs by the same tunesmith’s (Justin Paul and Benj Pasek) who wrote the wonderful music and lyrics for last year’s popular La La Land. And they have also done a marvelous job for this film. “This Is Me” and “Never Enough” should be shoo-ins for Oscar nominations. I’m happy to see that the movie has already garnered Golden Globe nominations for Best Musical or Comedy Film and Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
Jackman seems perfect as P.T. Barnum, a visionary who rose from poverty to create “a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.” Surprisingly, an amusing coincidence starts everything. Barnum just happens to see a “little person” at an audition one day, then reads “The Adventures of Tom Thumb” to his daughters that night. We are amazed at how his imagination kicks into gear and how quickly he goes off to sign his first “attraction.”
The movie then follows Barnum’s ups and downs as a salesman, impresario, ring master, and -- of course -- family man. His lovely wife (Michelle Williams) and darling two daughters (Cameron Seely and Austyn Johnson) are a big part of his life.
Because Jackman is such a fine actor, we feel delight at Barnum’s accomplishments and sad when things go wrong. But for me, the highlights here involve the special way Jackman moves in the musical numbers.
Hugh Jackman sings and dances too.
“The Greatest Showman,” that is true!
As P.T. Barnum, he succeeds
in bringing fun to meet our needs.
With dance numbers and songs that flow
plus characters that stop the show,
this musical deserves acclaim.
It should receive awards and fame.
Most musical fans will be pleased.
Their Logan worries should be eased.
A lot of thought and work show here,
which makes us want to clap and cheer.
In fact, viewers at the screening my husband and I attended applauded enthusiastically at the end of The Greatest Showman. Personally, I found it difficult not to applaud even during some of the musical scenes. The romantic trapeze number featuring Zac Efron and Zendaya is hauntingly beautiful. Also, Rebecca Ferguson, who plays the famous opera singer Jenny Lind, belts out “Never Enough” (lip synching to Loren Allred’s voice) so dramatically it takes your breath away.
Among the fascinating people who make up Barnum’s group of “curiosities,” Lettie Lutz, the Bearded Lady (Keala Settle), stands out with her amazing voice. As does Tom Thumb, played with attitude by Sam Humphrey. But each one of this terrific group helps deliver a message about their importance as individuals.
Directed by Michael Gracey from a screenplay by Jenny Bicks (Rio 2) and Bill Condon (Chicago), The Greatest Showman ends up as a special holiday gift to movie musical fans like me.
(Released by Twentieth Century Fox and rated “PG” for thematic elements and a brawl.)
For more information about The Greatest Showman, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.