The Greatest Showman is an original musical that musical theater geeks have been waiting for.
Musicals are very important to me. I wouldn’t say that I am obsessed with stage musicals, but I do have an obsession with movie musicals. This is the first original movie musical I’ve seen that encapsulates the love and feeling I have for stage, screen, dance, and music since I saw White Christmas (1954) for the first time in 1996.
The Greatest Showman follows the life of P.T. Barnum and the beginning of Barnum’s American Museum. The music of the film helps to move the plot along with exposition as well as provide depth of character through song. The musicality of song, as well as the style of dance performed, has a modern feeling compared to the songs and dances used in the traditional stage musical titled “Barnum.”
The stage musical, “Barnum,” is quite different than this story that is being told. While I have not seen the stage production of Barnum, I have read the synopsis and listened to the soundtrack and through this basic research, it is clear that these two productions are vastly different with just the subject matter being similar.
When listening to the soundtrack and seeing the movie, you will note that Rebecca Ferguson’s singing voice is dubbed by Loren Allred (The Voice finalist in season 3). Some may not like this decision, but I contend that we have stunt doubles to do what actors cannot do, so when you are playing a real life woman that is the best singer in the world, why wouldn’t you get the best? Some may say, why not have a singer in the role, but honestly, it’s easier and more effective to dub than it is to teach a singer to act. Side note: Mulan’s voice and singing voice are done by two different actresses.
Hugh Jackman is perfectly cast as P.T. Barnum and seems like he was made for this role. His voice and dance ability lend itself to show how he really is The Greatest Showman (you know, after James Corden — I kid, but go watch Crosswalk the Musical: The Greatest Showman). I was a little nervous about the age difference between him and Michelle Williams as a married couple, however, I think they did the best they could with makeup and distance in shots that it doesn’t seem out of place. Michelle Williams is an incredible actress that I feel we don’t talk about as much as we should. She is fantastic in this role and could have even been given more to do.
Zac Efron (or as my 7 year daughter likes to say – Troy) plays a character with depth, but we don’t get to see everything play out with him in full. What we do see, and the conflict that he goes through regularly in the movie, makes you root for him throughout. I appreciate the dynamic relationships that he has in the film and how he is able to navigate them.
Zendaya seems a little young for the role she was cast in but holy heck does she have some acting and singing chops that I just can’t help fall in love with her too.
My only criticism of the film is that it felt a little glossy of P.T.’s life and a little bit rushed at times, but overall, I can’t wait to see it again and again.
There’s only one thing left to say about this film and that’s:
Where did that second rope come from?? (you’ll know what I mean)