Big top production has audiences going nuts

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Step right up and see the bizarre, extraordinary, astonishing, marvelous creature that is… the bearded woman! She is the star of the show and the face of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. “The Greatest Showman,” a musical telling of the story of Barnum & Bailey Circus founder P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman), leaves audiences wanting to jump up out of their seats dancing.

The story begins in Barnum’s youth, where he lived with virtually nothing, penniless and orphaned. As it unfolds, the righteous dreamer risks his reputation and family relationship to open a circus. The spectacle was a hit and Barnum’s fame began to grow. Letting the fame go to his head, Barnum loses sight of the true reason he began the circus. This film takes the audience through the ups and downs of Barnum’s journey from rags to riches.

Barnum’s protege Philip Carlyle (Zac Efron) and trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (Zendaya) are a pair of star-crossed lovers, determined to overcome adversity and “rewrite” their destiny. Zendaya embodied her character of a trapeze artist with beauty and finesse. At the start of filming, Zendaya told Elle Magazine she was afraid of heights, but she overcame this due to a little help from castmates like Jackman, who offered her powerful words of encouragement.

“‘Zendaya, you’re a badass,’” Jackman said, as she got ready to fasten herself into the rig, according to Zendaya’s interview with Elle.

Although Zendaya had to step out of her comfort zone to execute this role, she overcame the difficulties and shined as Anne.  Efron played the role of Carlye with class. He embraced the role of the “goody two-shoes” who doesn’t stray from the status quo. Efron slid into the character of Carlyle with ease, no sign of his Troy Bolton, high school basketball star, past.

Hugh Jackman, playing the lead role of ringmaster, was a change from his recent character Wolverine. The shift from claws and fur to top hat and coattail was smooth because of Jackman’s background in musicals. He portrayed the character impeccably, capturing Barnum’s character precisely.

The combination of vocals and choreography meshed together almost effortlessly. Many of the songs had a “Broadway” feel to them which was really enjoyable. In one of the last songs “From Now On,” the singing and dancing was perfectly synchronized and upbeat, and the audience was bobbing their heads to the rhythm.

“The Greatest Showman” is a movie for all ages. Rated PG, the film combines aspects of comedy, romance and musical genres to create a flawless production. Much like critics rejected Barnum’s circus concept in the movie, critics did not embrace “The Greatest Showman,”  but audiences continue to step into the ring because the show must go on.

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