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The Greatest Showman and his Troupe of Misfits

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The Greatest Showman as presented by Hugh Jackman is the perfect antidote to January.

Based on the life of P.T Barnum and his travelling circus, fizzling with colour, musical numbers that really only Hugh Jackman can deliver in his razzmatazz style and passion.

We meet Barnum, orphaned at a young age rise above his adverse poverty to marry his childhood sweetheart and establish his circus company become very wealthy and rise up in society well to an extent. Despite his success, he isn’t fully accepted into the higher echelons of New York society and so his inner shortcoming is the desire to be seen as respectable and not just a well-oiled machine exploiting the “Freaks” that he has gathered and puts on display.

Although of course, the Hollywood twist on this circus is opportunity and equality for all, unlikely to be the case in real life, but nevertheless a worthy dream and ambition to pursue in this extravaganza.

Zendaya and Zac Efron

So who was Barnum and where was his collection of “freaks” picked up from?

Firstly his childhood wasn’t as adverse as the film suggested, although they were accurate in depicting him as an astute businessman who in real life reinvented himself a number of times throughout his life as an author, publisher, philanthropist, and for some time a politician, he said of himself, “I am a showman by profession…and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me,” and he was also credited with coining the phrase “There’s a sucker born every minute” which in itself seems to be a good indicator of his opportunistic character. 

There were an array of acts that were part of his “Freakshow” he claimed to have President George Washington’s 160-year-old nanny in his ensemble, and routinely exploited black people, the mentally and physically disabled, and deformed — including conjoined twins and a child with dwarfism, a mermaid sewn together from the torso of a small monkey and the back of a fish— in the name of profit.

Lionel the lion-faced man, was one of Barnum’s big acts, born Stephen Bibrowski in 1890, Poland with one-inch hair covering his body. Stephen’s mother blamed the condition on her witnessing the mauling of his father, by a lion when she was pregnant, she considered him an abomination and gave him up. At the age of four, he was given his stage name and was exhibited throughout Europe, before eventually making his way to Barnum and Bailey as a side act.

Lionel the Lion-faced Man

So certainly an interesting story that Hugh Jackman has been trying to get made for seven and half years.

Musicals are notoriously expensive, hardly surprising with 10 musical numbers,  lavish sets and costumes costs, but when they work, the dividend’s are huge, La La Land, Le Miserable and Chicago to name a few.

But certainly, the biggest star out there who can not only deliver’s those big musical numbers incredibly well is Hugh Jackman and remains unrivalled at the moment, supported by his years of experience in musical theatre before joining the film fraternity.

The domestic box office reflects figures pre-awards season and the international release is being rolled out now,  so it’s more the final figure is more than likely to double at the very least, against the budget of $84 million.

DVD sales and TV residuals will obviously add substantially to the overall total.

The Greatest Showman Domestic Box Office 

 

Domestic Total as of Jan. 17, 2018:$101,377,346
Distributor: Fox Release Date: December 20, 2017
Genre: Musical Runtime: 1 hrs. 45 min.
MPAA Rating: PG Production Budget: $84 million

 

 

It may be that history and Hollywood have re-adapted the story to take away the best message possible from this slightly dubious history and offered an upbeat and entertaining version of Barnum’s life and legacy, but the message from this film is firmly focused on inclusiveness and diversity.

Finally, even the biggest star’s in the world sometimes have to audition, despite having surgery and going against his doctor’s advice not to sing as this could, and did, result in his stitches breaking, Hugh gets swept away in the moment, succeeding in him financing his film.

 

 

2 Comments

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