Before Benj Pasek and Justin Paul wrote lyrics for Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, before they won a Golden Globe and Oscar, before their musical Dear Evan Hansen became a movement, before they won the Tony, before A Christmas Story (live or on Broadway), even before Dogfight, the two were undergrads studying musical theatre. Ari Conte has similar beginnings.
Conte is an alumna of Emerson College’s musical theatre program and spent the last year-and-a-half learning the business of Broadway and the creation of movie musicals under the tutelage of some of Broadway’s big movers and shakers.
The upcoming movie musical The Greatest Showman is inspired by the life of P.T. Barnum stars Hugh Jackman as the founder of “The Greatest Show on Earth.” But the movie is more of a love story—with Barnum’s dreams fueled by his love for his wife, played by Michelle Williams, a forbidden romance between characters played by Zac Efron and Zendaya, and a proclamation of self-love led by Broadway’s Keala Settle.
Set for nationwide theatrical release December 20, for audiences—particularly fans of Pasek and Paul and those who have been listening to The Greatest Showman album since its December 8 release—this is the moment they’ve been waiting for.
Conte is particularly excited for audiences to experience the vision and the music. “I’ve listened to these songs ... and I love them so much and I want to sing these songs,” says Conte.
The result is this music video, directed by Conte and starring Conte and her fellow Emerson a cappella alumni Britt Oswald, Danny Irwin, Andy Pham, and Xavier Garcia. The arrangement by Oswald with assistance from Irwin and Conte features excerpts of “The Greatest Show,” “Never Enough,” “Tightrope,” “This is Me,” and, Conte’s favorite, “A Million Dreams.” (The video officially drops on YouTube December 19.)
And while Hugh Jackman and Keala Settle nail their performances, this a cappella rendition brings something fresh to the table. “All the songs have a little twist,” says Conte. “Whether that’s gender-bending the singer or making a musical theatre song more R&B.
“This should be the first a cappella cover on YouTube of this, so I wanted to make sure we gave something different,” says Conte. If Pasek and Paul’s other scores are any indication, it may be the first cover but won’t be the last.
Watch the full video above.
This video was created with help from Marisa Forziati (video editor), Julian Focareta (director of photography), Zach Anderson (production coordinator), Andy Pham (marketing director), Liquid Fifth Proudction (vocal editing and mixing), and WERS with Cody Gelsinger (vocal recording).