Barnum the musical

Fortune always favours the brave, and never helps a man who does not help himself

PT Barnum

Roll up! Roll up!

Run away and join the circus for the night as 'the greatest showman on Earth' entertains you with showbiz pizzazz and high-wire spectacle at this intimate little Southwark theatre.

Barnum is loosely based on the story of the legendary showman Phineas T Barnum, whose travelling circus of acrobats, exotic freak show and hoax acts toured America in the 19th century.

This revival of the musical about his famous circus has the feel of a colourful street theatre, with jugglers, fire-eaters and acrobats as well as Barnum's collection of different performers: the world's shortest man, the oldest woman, and so on. The auditorium has been turned into a circus tent for the show, with a revolving stage on which the dizzying array of stunts are performed up close, all accompanied by feel-good show tunes, from Come Follow the Band to There is a Sucker Born Ev'ry Minute.

The comedian Marcus Brigstocke takes the lead role in this production, with solid back-up from musical theatre stars Laura Pitt-Pulford and the Dutch actress Celinde Shoenmaker, as Barnum's long-suffering wife and the circus's opera singer, 'the Swedish nightingale', respectively.

With circus acts, toe-tapping tunes and the story of a dreamer, entrepreneur and showman extraordinaire, it's a night of high-energy acrobatics.

The real Barnum

The real P T Barnum didn't get into the circus business until late in his career when he was in his 60s. He had previously dallied in all sorts of professions, from Connecticut politics to running a newspaper, a state lottery and a general store, as well as founding a hospital. He first rose to prominence for his travelling exhibits of curiosities (some of extremely questionable authenticity), mixing his 'humbug' hoaxes with real 'living curiosities', including the 'Feejee Mermaid', the tiny 'General Tom Thumb' and a 161-year-old woman. This morphed into his travelling circus, P T Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome.

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Image: Nobby Clark


25 November 2017 - 03 March 2018


Menier Chocolate Factory
53 Southwark Street
SE11 1RU