Revised Version of Barnum Opens at U.K.'s Chichester July 24
By Mark Shenton
A brand-new production of Barnum premieres at Chichester's Theatre in the Park July 24, following previews that began July 15, for a season through Aug. 31. Cy Coleman, Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble's musical is being presented in a revised version by Cameron Mackintosh and Bramble.
It is directed by Timothy Sheader, artistic director of the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, and co-directed and choreographed by Liam Steel, who previously did Into the Woods at Regent's Park and subsequently at New York's Delacorte together. It is co-choreographed by Andrew Wright (recently represented in the West End by his choreography of Singin' in the Rain, which also originated at Chichester), with sets by Scott Pask, costumes by Paul Wills, orchestrations by William David Brohn, musical supervision by Stephen Brooker, lighting by Paule Constable and sound by Mick Potter. Vicki Amedume is circus consultant.
Broadway's Christopher Fitzgerald makes his U.K. debut in the title role, with Tamsin Carroll as Barnum's wife.
Fitzgerald, who made his Broadway debut in the short-lived Amour in 2002, originated the roles of Boq in Wicked in 2003 and Igor in Young Frankenstein in 2007. Other Broadway credits include starring as Og in the 2009 revival of Finian's Rainbow and playing Launcelot Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice in 2010.
Carroll was most recently seen in the West End as Nancy in Oliver!, a role she also played in her native Australia, for which she was awarded the Helpmann Award for Best Actress in a Musical. Other U.K. theatre credits include The Magistrate (National Theatre) and Emma Goldman in Ragtime and Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream (both for the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park).
The cast also features Aretha Ayeh as Joice Heath, Anna O’Byrne as Jenny Lind and Jack North as Thom Thumb. O'Byrne played the role of Christine Daae in the Australian production of Love Never Dies.
The cast also includes Rachael Archer, Jacquie Biggs, Nick Butcher, Sophie Camble, Jon-Scott Clark, Leon Cooke, Stefan Dermendjiev, Faith-Louise Francis, Chris Gage, A C Garcia, Trina Hill, Jack Horner, Erin Jameson, Jasmine Kerr, Mitch Leow, James O’Connell, Michaela O’Connor, Max Parker, Tom Scanlon, Lucie-Mae Sumner and Robert Tregoning.
The show is being performed in the purpose-built temporary Theatre in the Park, while Chichester Festival Theatre undergoes its £22 million RENEW redevelopment.
In a previous press statement, Chichester artistic director Jonathan Church commented, "At the point that RENEW was given the go-ahead we had already been discussing with Cameron Mackintosh the idea of taking a completely new look at Barnum in Chichester. It was our belief that the thrust stage and 'concrete tent' nature of the theatre might be a good environment to reinvent this brilliant musical. However, the news that we were going to move out of the theatre and create a temporary performance space led to an even more perfect possibility – Barnum in a tent! We are obviously thrilled by the prospect of this production for our audiences and to be working with Cameron Mackintosh, Timothy Sheader and a wonderful cast led by Christopher Fitzgerald and Tamsin Carroll on this exciting adventure."
Cameron Mackintosh added, "Listening to the Barnum score, by chance, about eight years ago, I was again attracted to its dynamic personal story, the infectious rousing score and universal timelessness. I realised that the true heart of the story is the relationship between Barnum and his wife, Chairy, a couple that needed each other. Sadly, by this time, Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart, the writers of the original music and lyrics were dead. However, the book's author, Mark Bramble, who I’ve known for many years, was very much alive. He was eager to collaborate on rebuilding a new version of the show with a considerably reconstructed score."
To book tickets, contact the box office on 01243 781312, or visit www.cft.org.uk.
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