The Greatest Showman has made the genre of movie musicals cool again. The film, which is based on the story of P.T. Barnum has taken the world by storm over the last few months, with its soundtrack topping the charts, writes Nicky Sweetland…
And for those of you who prefer your music a little bit more interactive, you can head along to Greenwich Picturehouse for a special singalong screening on 11 March.
But where has this monster musical come from and what has made it so popular?
Well, obviously that is up for debate, but it is probably in part down to the musical theatre pedigree of both the creative team and cast involved.
The screenplay was co-written by Bill Condon, who has previously scored huge success with the movie musicals Dreamgirls and Chicago and most recently the live action version of Beauty and the Beast.
His cast is led by Hugh Jackman, who has appeared in a plethora of productions on Broadway and is best known to London audiences for his portrayal of Curly in the National Theatre’s production of Oklahoma! in 1998. He has since gone on to have an envied Hollywood career, but has returned to the genre of musicals on more than one occasion, most notably taking on the leading role in the film adaptation of the smash hit musical Les Misérables.
He’s not the only cast member who cut his teeth in musicals either. Jackman’s co-star, Michelle Williams has starred in Cabaret on Broadway, while the film’s other leading man, Zac Efron, first came to the world’s attention in the teen-film series High School Musical.
But let’s look at the music for a moment. I’m sure many of you will be aware that this is not the first time P.T. Barnum’s life has been depicted through music. In fact, you’ve got a few more days to see the classic Cy Coleman musical Barnum at The Menier Chocolate Factory. The Greatest Showman however, is scored by a burgeoning partnership, which have the promise of becoming the next Rogers and Hammerstein. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul – or Pasek and Paul as they are known professionally – have become the go to virtuosos for movie producers over recent years, with their song “City of Stars” – which was featured in La La Land – earning them an Academy Award. And they have also had more than one dalliance with musical theatre too, with their song cycle, Edges, becoming a cult classic among stagey aficionados.
And rumour has, it that their multi-award winning Broadway stage hit Dear Evan Hanson will be coming to London in the not too distant future. The show’s Tony Award winning star, Ben Platt recently visited the capital, leading to tongues wagging about him potentially making his West End debut in the show.
For now though, fans of the musical pairing’s work can get their fill from singing along to one of the most popular film soundtracks of the last ten years, at a special screening of The Greatest Showman at Greenwich Picturehouse. You can stretch your vocal chords and nurture your vibrato as you chirp along to Hugh Jackman and co on 11 March at 3pm. www.picturehouses.com