Review: Barnum − celebrating the art of humbug

PUBLISHED: 15:10 25 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:10 25 July 2019

The Oppitts cast of Barnum

The Oppitts cast of Barnum


The award-winning youth section of Weston Operatic Society were on (big) top form when their newest show, Barnum, opened at the Blakehay Theatre in Weston last night (Wednesday).

The Oppitts will perform in Fame Jr.The Oppitts will perform in Fame Jr.

The Oppitts fanfared the life of circus showman PT Barnum in glorious technicolour with energetic song and dance numbers, with the enthusiastic cast giving it their all, despite the theatre experiencing stifling temperatures.

Businessman Barnum became successful due to his spectacular marketing techniques and larger-than-life circus acts which he originally displayed in a museum he named after himself.

Thanks to his love of spectacle and excitement he used hype or what he calls 'humbug' to promote exhibits such as the oldest woman alive at 160 who became a huge success thanks to 'discovering' she was George Washington's nanny, a child who he marketed as the smallest man in the world who he calls General Tom Thumb, and a mermaid creature clouded in a veil of secrecy who doesn't even exist.

Barnum's wife Charity does not share his love of 'flim-flam' and urges him to get a normal job but he keeps going with money-spinning schemes such as managing Swedish singer Jenny Lind, who he falls in love with and joins on tour, leaving his wife behind.

When he later returns to her he makes a bid to become respectable by going into politics, becoming mayor of Bridgeport and running for senate.

The musical explores his relationships, career and his rise to fame.

The appreciative audience tapped their feet to numbers including There's A Sucker Born Every Minute, Thank God I'm Old, The Colours Of My Life and One Brick At A Time.

Each one of the talented youngsters put on a flawless American accent, which, although was difficult to hear or understand at times, took nothing away from the story and the infectious exuberance of their performances.

The clowns were funny, the dancers wowed the crowd with their acrobatics and the principle cast were all excellent and word-perfect in what must have been a difficult script to learn.

Special mention must go to Ben Fryer who ably took on the daunting task of the lead role, Amelia Seaton was very convincing as his wife, Kate Pattinson for her voice-of-an-angel portrayal of Jenny Lind, Charlotte Doswell for her silky voice as the Blues singer and firecracker Joe Thomas who, being the voice of the circus as ringmaster always managed to make himself heard.

Barnum will be at the Blakehay Theatre, in Wadham Street, until Saturday at 7.30pm with an additional matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm.

Tickets, priced £12, are available at

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