London Production of Barnum, with John Barrowman, Likely for 2009 | Playbill

News London Production of Barnum, with John Barrowman, Likely for 2009
A new London production of the 1980 Broadway musical Barnum is in the cards. Producer Cameron Mackintosh now holds the rights to the Cy Coleman-scored show and is in discussion with musical theatre and television actor John Barrowman to star in the title role.
John Barrowman
John Barrowman

Both parties are aiming for autumn 2009, though it will depend on a number of factors, including Barrowman's ongoing TV commitments and the availability of a suitable theatre, with the London Palladium being eyed as a possible contender. The Palladium, currently home to The Sound of Music, was where Barnum also opened its original London run in June 1981, with Michael Crawford inheriting the title role that Jim Dale originated on Broadway. Crawford subsequently reprised the role in 1985 in a West End return of the show to the Victoria Palace.

No deals have been inked yet, but Barrowman is keen to make a return to the West End where his career began as a leading man of musicals when, then unknown, he took over as Billy Crocker in Anything Goes opposite Elaine Paige in 1989. He later returned to that role in 2002 in a different production at the National Theatre, directed by Trevor Nunn, that subsequently transferred to the West End's Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Between those two productions, Barrowman has variously taken over in the West End in leading roles in Miss Saigon (playing Chris), The Phantom of the Opera (playing Raoul), The Beauty and the Beast and Sunset Boulevard (playing Joe Gillis opposite Betty Buckley, and later reprising that role on Broadway), and originated roles in new musicals, from the short-lived Matador at the Queen's Theatre in 1991 to The Fix, directed by Sam Mendes at the Donmar Warehouse in 1997 (for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical). On Broadway he also starred opposite Carol Burnett in the Stephen Sondheim revue Putting it Together (seen at the Barrymore in 1999), and played Bobby in Company at Washington's Kennedy Center as part of their Sondheim Celebration in 2002. He has also appeared in the plays Rope at Chichester Festival's Minerva Theatre in 1993, Love's Labours Lost for director Trevor Nunn at the National Theatre in 2003, and Aaron Sorkin's A Few Good Men at the West End's Theatre Royal, Haymarket in 2005, opposite Rob Lowe.

On TV, he is best known for creating the role of Captain Jack Harkness in the first series of Russell T. Davies' revamped "Doctor Who" for BBC TV, with that character proving so popular that he was given his own-spin-off series "Torchwood," which premiered in the autumn of 2006, with a second series airing now. Barrowman has also continued to appear in subsequent series of "Doctor Who." Barrowman's autobiography, "Anything Goes," was published in January. In April he is to embark on a nationwide concert tour.

If a deal and timetable can be worked out, Barrowman's West End return in Barnum will be directed and choreographed by Broadway's Rob Ashford, who recently made his double-duty debut in those roles for the Donmar Warehouse's British premiere of Jason Robert Brown's Parade, and previously also choreographed Michael Grandage's revival of Evita at the West End's Adelphi Theatre.

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