By Jordan Norkus
Arts & Entertainment Editor
“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else,” said Hugh Jackman as P. T. Barnum, in Michael Gracey’s “The Greatest Showman.”
The musical drama-romance film was released in theaters on Friday, Dec. 8.
Directed by Gracey and written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon, “The Greatest Showman” is based on P. T. Barnum’s creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus.
What I find especially interesting about P. T. Barnum’s story that wasn’t mentioned in the film (unless I missed it), is that he was actually the Mayor of Bridgeport.
The Associated Press (AP) reported that there has been an increase in visitors to Bridgeport’s Barnum Museum since “The Greatest Showman” started playing in theaters.
“My hope is the movie will illuminate the museum situation to a broad range of people through the state, the country, and even globally,” said Museum director Kathy Maher.
The AP also reported that there are some significant differences between real-life Barnum and Jackman’s Barnum.
In the film, Barnum is poor and comes from nothing. Barnum actually grew up in Bethel, Conn., as the grandson of one of the most prosperous people in town. Barnum also never wore the ringleader’s uniform that Jackman wore in the film.
“I thought it was fun entertainment. It was a romp,” said Arthur Saxon, author of “P.T. Barnum: The Legend and the Man.” “But it has absolutely nothing to do with the historic Barnum.”
Along with Jackman, the film stars Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya, this film features an inspiring story about bringing dreams to life and creating something spectacularly beautiful from nothing.
Jackman couldn’t be more perfectly casted as “The Greatest Showman”’s leading man. He has such a strong background in musical performance so I knew that he wouldn’t disappoint – and I was right. Throughout the entire film, I was eagerly following his journey, through the ups and the downs.
Although I believe that Efron did a decently good job, I think that this is another example of the creators behind film musicals casting stars with a big name, instead of casting someone who is vocally stronger; like Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in “La La Land.” Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I would have preferred to see someone more like Jeremy Jordan play the role of Phillip Carlyle.
When I first heard about this film during its pre-production phase, I initially thought it was going to be a film adaptation of Mark Bramble, Michael Stewart and Cy Coleman’s American musical, “Barnum.”
To my surprise, I enjoyed how it was a fresh, new adaptation of the story, altogether. This is mostly due to the beautiful original soundtrack.
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote the music for the film, truly have a way with words. One can expect musical greatness from them, no matter what the project is.
It’s no surprise that after their significant and well-deserved musical recognition from productions such as “La La Land” and “Dear Evan Hansen,” that they have also won a Golden Globe Award and are nominated for an Academy Award for the seventh musical number in “The Greatest Showman:” “This Is Me.”
The number is sang by Keala Settle, who plays Lettie Lutz, the bearded lady.
“Keala [looked]to Hugh, took his hand and sang the last verse to him,” said Paul in an interview with Variety. “He was crying and she was too. The whole room knew we were witnessing something extraordinary. She got the job that day.”
Pasek and Paul’s lyrics really have the power to hit home for anyone. One of my favorite lyrics that are sung throughout the film is: “Every night I lie in bed, the brightest colors fill my head. A million dreams are keeping me awake.”
It really brings viewers back to this idea of bringing one’s dreams to life and doing whatever it takes to get there.
“The Greatest Showman” received a box office gross of $8,805,843, 24 during its opening weekend in the U.S., a 8/10 rating on IMDb, and a 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.