Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern


Also see John's review of Nunsense

Brad Oscar
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre and co-producers the Asolo Repertory Theatre proudly present Barnum, sponsored by the John McDonald Company. The colorful production stars Broadway veteran Brad Oscar (The Producers, Spamalot, Jekyll & Hyde) as the charismatic P.T. Barnum.

Barnum is a musical based on the life of the World's Greatest Showman, Phineas "P. T." Barnum. The story covers the period from 1835 through 1880 and is set in the various locales across America where Barnum took his performing companies. Barnum's creative and ambitious life led him down many paths, including politics. His marriage to Charity "Chairy" Hallett, his affair with singer Jenny Lind, and his free-wheeling business and personal adventures are traced in the story of Barnum. Surely, wherever he ventured, it was with great color and flair. Ironically, though Barnum resisted joining forces with James Anthony Bailey, it is for the resulting union of the Barnum & Bailey Circus that he is best known.

The original production of Barnum opened on April 30, 1980 at the St. James Theatre, and closed on May 16, 1982 after 854 performances. With music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Michael Stewart, and book by Mark Bramble, the production starred Jim Dale as P.T. Barnum and Glenn Close as Chairy Barnum. It won three Tony Awards (from ten nominations) and a Drama Desk Award, and Marianne Tatum won a Theatre World Award for the role of Jenny Lind. On June 11, 1981, the West End production opened at the London Palladium where it ran for 655 performances, starring Michael Crawford and Deborah Grant. Crawford received a Lawrence Olivier Award. This production was recorded and broadcast by the BBC in 1986, and later released on DVD.

This splendid production at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre features seven live musicians and a host of circus tricks including trapeze, juggling, acrobatics and tight rope walking to bring Barnum's world to life. Brad Oscar is so comfortable in the role that he was barely affected by technical problems at the beginning of the first act, handling them comically and in character. He plays the role with energy and style. Standout performances are also turned in by Nathaniel Braga as Tom Thumb, whose acrobatics add to the role, and the Dream Barnum and Chairy played by Matt Baker and Jessica Green. The intelligent choreography by Joshua Rhodes is well executed in dance moments that enhance the storyline between the two main characters beautifully. From start to finish, this production is packed with the novel visual entertainment of circus acts woven into the show. It is an admirable production of the highest quality.

Barnum will be presented at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through January 25, 2009. The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is a 550-seat, nonprofit, community-based Equity regional theatre belonging to the League of Resident Theatres, and the Florida Professional Theatre Association. They employ both local and non-local Equity and non-union cast and crew members. The theatre is located at 1001 Indiantown Rd. (just off of A1A) in Jupiter, FL. Show times are Tuesday - Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 p.m.. For tickets to this show, and complete information on the theatre's offerings, you may contact them by phone at 561/ 575-3332 or 800/ 445-1666, and online at

P.T. Barnum: Brad Oscar*
Chairy Barnum: Misty Cotton*
Ringmaster: Kevin Kraft*
Joice Heth/Blues Singer: Debra Walton*
Tom Thumb: Nathaniel Braga*
Jenny Lind: Renee Brna*
Dream Barnum: Matt Baker*
Dream Chairy: Jessica Green*
Dream Jenny: Amy Shure*
Ensemble: Matt Baker*, Deanna Dys*, Jessica Green*, Freddie Kimmel*, Alfie Parker, Jr.*, Amy Shure*, Emily K. Bottorff, William Cortez-Statham , Alice Eacho and Dean-Carlo Grant.

Director: Gordon Greenberg
Choreographer: Joshua Rhodes
Musical Director: Helen Gregory
Scenic Design: Michael Schweikardt
Sound Design: Keith Kohrs
Costume Design: Alejo Vietti
Lighting Design: Traci Klainer
Production Stage Manager: Andrew John Tucker*

*Designates member of Actor's Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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