Welcome to Barnum,
Join the Circus!
It’s not just a command. As is the case with much of musical theatre, things are never exactly what they appear at first glance and that phrase is no exception. Sure, in this play, it’s about actually joining the circus, but it’s also about something bigger. It’s about giving yourself permission to do the things you’ve only dreamed of doing; the things that scare and excite you, the things that the rest of the world might not see as “practical” but the things that have potential to make your life a happier one.
A lot of people might say that all of us who have chosen professional theatre for a career have already joined the circus. And they’re probably right. Making a living in this business is a scary prospect which our artists both onstage and backstage have chosen to face head-on. Why? For the most part, we can’t imagine being truly happy doing anything else. (If we could, we know it would pay better and be much more secure). But we’ve chosen a path that some might consider foolhardy.
I was lucky. I had parents who supported, even encouraged, my career in the Arts. In fact my first encounter with this musical was on my very first trip ever to New York City as a kid with my parents. They took me to eight Broadway shows that week. Seven of them had been pre-planned, but the eighth was a wildcard. We had one slot open on our final Sunday and they asked me what I wanted to see. I chose Barnum, a brand new musical which had only opened a few weeks earlier starring Jim Dale (of Harry Potter audio book fame) and a pre-movie-star Glen Close. I loved it. It was magical. It made me want to join the circus.
For the Old Creamery, this show is a lot like joining the circus. Even with a cast of 10, it’s bigger in scope than virtually any musical we’ve done here in the last two decades. It’s an amazing group of talented performers, directors, designers, and technicians who are helping us stretch the boundaries of what we’re capable of as a company. And you’ll hopefully continue to see us stretch ourselves to include some bigger musicals in upcoming seasons.
The P.T. Barnum depicted in this show is a dreamer: a man who sees the world around him as a canvas for color and excitement. He wants to spread joy through imagination and wonder, even if that requires a little misdirection, a little stretching of the truth, or a little “humbug” along the way. I think we can identify with that as theatre professionals, but I also hope that Barnum reminds each and every person who sees it that life is too short not to embrace your dreams. We hope you have a wonderful time with us, and that maybe we’ll inspire you to join your own “circus” wherever and whatever that means to you.
As always, thanks for joining us. We’ll see you next time.