Thursday, 22 January 2015

REVIEW: Barnum at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking

Originally performed on Broadway in 1980 with Jim Dale and Glenn Close, the current touring production of Barnum comes from Cameron Mackintosh and the Chichester Festival Theatre. This production was revived in 2013 and is now touring through till August 2015. 

Barnum is a bizzare musical, I couldn’t really tell what was going on through out the story as nothing seemed to have any flow to it. Things were popping up here, there and everywhere so I lost track of what was going on. And the wife's death scene? Very confusing! The ensemble numbers, however, were stunning, especially for a touring production! I’m very impressed with how they pulled off this scale production in this kind of theatre, I’ve never seen musical numbers like it on the touring circuit. 

At the start of the musical they surrounded the auditorium with the ensemble doing circus tricks and interacting with he audience, it was a fantastic way to get the audience involved and excited for what was about to happen, its just a shame that there was a slight dip in energy when the show actually started as it left us feeling a little lacklustre. 

The show, as a whole, seems a little dated. Its the original material that makes the show seem like this, it certainly has been brought into the 21st century in this particular production but I think its going to be hard to try and get a modern audience in to see this show. 

I absolutely loved the set, Scott Pask has done a brilliant job in bringing the circus to the Woking Theatre. It looks lavish and adapts into so many different looks which takes us on a joinery to all the different places in an imaginative way. In fact, every visual aspect of the show stimulates the imagination and feeds you with gorgeous images live in front of your eyes. 

Brian Conley stars as the title character in the musical, I couldn't follow anything
he said or sang because I couldn't understand a word of it. Saying this, he does however embody Barnum very well and he is charming as the lead role. 

Musical Theatre veteran Linzi Hateley plays Barnums Wife, Chairy. Some perfect casting going on here as she was delightful in the role. The American accent was slightly off but this was made up by her sassy but also caring natural towards Barnum. 

Kimberly Blake as Jenny Lind provided stunning vocals and beauty to the production, she graced the stage in her very short time in the show. 

I wanted more from Landi Oshinowo, she has a stunning voice and it would have
been incredible to have utilised that more. She is a little underused in the show. 

Mikey Jay-Heath is the cutest Tom Thumb! His number was wonderfully performed and very memorable. 

What keeps this musical together are the talented and slick ensemble, the musical numbers are the highlight of the production and they are what pull them together. 

This may not be the best musical around at the moment but it sure is one you need to experience if you’re a musical theatre fan. 

Rating: ★★

Barnum plays at the Woking Theatre until 24 January 2015, click here to book tickets 

Cast includes: Brian Conley, Linzi Hateley, Kimberly Blake, Landi Oshinowo, Mikey Jay-Heath, John Stacey, Georgie Ashford, Greg Bernstein, David Birch, Courtney-Mae Briggs, Nick Butcher, Alison Connell, Stefan Dermendjiev, Silvia Dopazo, Chris Gage, Joanna Goodwin, Pascal Haering, Rebecca Hawkins, Erin Jameson, Jennifer Robinson, Louis Stockil, Lucy Thatcher and Edward Wade. 
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