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Barnum, The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Published by: GRAHAM CLARK on 26th Nov 2014 | View all blogs by GRAHAM CLARK
The circus really did come to town with this new touring production of Barnum. Before the musical commences the audience were entertained in the stalls with Jugglers and a man walking on his hands! Of course these were actors who were to appear later on stage.


It has to be said that you have to be a fan of Brian Conley who plays Barnum: he is in every scene and at times it felt like you were watching one of his stand up comic spots albeit with him having an American accent.

Conley has a deep bass voice which might have been suited to playing Jolson a few years ago but it did not suit some of the songs in the musical score; within  which there are no well known songs.  Apart from these considerations it is a colourful, dazzling and entertaining show.

The story describes how P. Taylor Barnum goes from circus man to having his own Barnum Museum to becoming Lord Mayor and back again to the circus - inbetween there are "attractions" like a 160 year old woman, the world's largest elephant (straight out of pantomime) and Conley walking a tightrope and eating fire.

Kimberely Blake as Jenny Lind had a superb voice and went from Swedish songstress with little spoken English to having a perfect English accent. Linzi Hateley as Cherry Barnum provided light and shade in her role as Taylor Barnum's wife whilst the energetic and youthful dancers worked their socks off.

If you have never seen Brian Conley before you will probably warm to him playing Barnum but I could not help thinking that with his cheeky grin on his face he was going to crack one of his own jokes.  That being said he is still charming and entertaining as Barnum.

Funny, colourful and with subtle undertones of lost love this touring production is still worth seeing.

Runs until Saturday 29th November 2014.
Tickets available from:


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 3 years ago
    Thanks, Graham. Sounds like a mixed bag. I must admit that I'm not the biggest fan of the story .... but I do find "Follow the Band" to be a rousing number.
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