This week I saw The Greatest Showman.
What pulled me in from the beginning was the music.
Knowing now that the composers were Benj Pasek and Justin Paul all made sense.
They are the industry’s go to composers from their start on NBC’s Smash to Oscar winning La La Land and Best Musical winning Dear Evan Hansen.
And the music supervisor was Alex Lacamore who is Tony award winner Lin Manuel Miranda right hand man.
The first time I ever heard live instrumentation with pop sensibility was Jonas Brothers’ A Little Bit Longer album.
Hugh Jackman opening song, The Greatest Show immediately got me hype.
This reminded me of a hip hop feel then the horns kicked and as Hugh began singing I literally turned to my friend and said “I’m in”.
The duet with Hugh and Zac where P.T. Barnum is petitioning playwright Phillip Carlyle to join him and letting him lure the high class crowd he feels is missing from his show is a country pop song that is reminiscent of old school Taylor Swift.
Every time Zac sang my heart smiled.
This is the first time I’ve seen him sing in a feature since Hairspray as he tried to distance himself from the High School Musical label.
He and Zendaya are Disney alum who made good and are successful in their own right.
Their characters’ romance in the movie is handled in a way that brings forth thought and shows that even the leaders of this inclusive circus can still be bound by other’s perception.
Their duet was fantastic, I knew Zendaya was a talented dancer but I didn’t realize she could sing and she truly held her own with the rest of the cast.
And the second verse of Rewrite The Stars communicates perfect the crux of the conflict, while Carlyle encouraging them to give into their feelings “You know I want you, it’s not a secret I try to hide I know you want me so don’t keep saying our hands are tied” she feels he’s naive and she knows how hard it actually will be “You think it’s easy, you think I don’t want to run to you” which encapsulates her point “we’re able to be who we are within these walls but when we go outside you’re gonna wake up and see that it was hopeless after all”.
The one who steals the show for me is the actress who plays the bearded lady, Keala Settle.
Her voice reminds me of Mandisa and is phenomenally powerful.
She’s something special and when she sings This Is Me it took my breath away, this empowering song is made even more special by the backing of the scene that just happened in the film.
Barnum wanted to be accepted, either by his wife’s affluent family or the upper crust who looked down on his circus.
This is shown by him shunning his circus family so when they go out throughout the crowd of those who would look down on them it’s special because of their confidence in their own skin.
This portrayal reminded me of another Jackman role, The Prestige.
Angier loved the adulation from the audience saying it was all about the look on their faces.
Similarly Barnum was best being a charismatic showman and drew crowds from his imaginative mind.
This determination is misplaced leading him to precarious positions with Swedish songstress Jenny Lind while on tour.
With him realizing what truly matters is not only his family he built with the circus during the song From Now On and also the reprise of The Greatest Show “it’s everything you ever want, it’s everything you ever need. And its here, right in front of you, this is where you wanna be” the lyrics have a double meaning as Barnum hands the torch of running the show to Carlyle while he joins his family for his daughters’ recital.
If you love music and great performances then be prepare to be transformed to a place where the impossible is realized in a hyper realistic setting. This truly is the greatest show.