THEATRE REVIEW: Barnum at Rotherham Civic Theatre

THEATRE REVIEW: Barnum at Rotherham Civic Theatre

By Chloe West | 12/03/2020

THEATRE REVIEW: Barnum at Rotherham Civic Theatre

A DASH of colour was added to my life on a dull Tuesday evening as Maltby Musical Theatre Group staged a bold and bright circus production. 

Barnum, recently retold on film as The Greatest Showman, tells the story of American showman P. T. Barnum, who will stop at nothing to pulls in the big crowds and entertain them with unusual never-before-seen acts.


With his many hoaxes and illusions, Barnum is searching for that one show-stopping act that will give him his big break, and even starts promoting a beautiful Swedish opera singer and follows her on tour.

Following a devastating fire, he must put his faith in the strange acts that he discovers and nurtures to fulfil his one big dream!  

Right from the off, members of the theatre group transformed themselves into jugglers and plate spinners, showing off their skills in brightly-coloured costumes at the side of the stage before curtain up.

MMTG chairman Richard Wilshaw makes for a very entertaining and comical lead, excelling with his fine acting skills, powerful vocals and witty dance moves, and became my favourite performer of the night.

But it wasn’t a flawless performance — brave Richard attempts to perform a full-scale tightrope walk on-stage, which left me on the edge of my seat in anticipation.

Performing a trick like that under pressure is no easy task, though, and despite plenty of audience encouragement, he was forced to call it quits after three failed attempts.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he may still pull it off the tightrope before the run ends. 

Fiona Broadhead, as Barnum’s wife Charity, and Martha Hayward, as Swedish singer Jenny Lind, also dropped surprising yet strong vocal performances and the cast as a whole pulled out many polished dance sequences and enjoyable songs, both emotive and feel-good.

It was also a refreshing change to see the band playing at the back of the stage —dressed in jazzy red waistcoats —instead of performing from the pit below. 

Despite the first night blunders, which also included a stilt-walker almost losing her balance and a microphone being caught up in Barnum’s bow tie, the show was still a success.

In fact, the errors probably made the show even more entertaining, keeping the audience laughing throughout. 

Barnum is at Rotherham Civic Theatre until Saturday.