Roll up, roll up – see a legendary showman

Barnum  at Chichester Festival Theatre from July 15 until August 31.
Barnum at Chichester Festival Theatre from July 15 until August 31.

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Chichester Festival Theatre will unveil its temporary state-of-the-art auditorium, Theatre in the Park, with a major new production of the musical Barnum.

Presented in association with Cameron Mackintosh, the production will be co-directed by Timothy Sheader.

Broadway star Christopher Fitzgerald will play the title role, alongside the award-winning Tamsin Carroll as Barnum’s wife, Chairy. The cast also features Aretha Ayeh as Joice Heath, Anna O’Byrne as Jenny Lind, whose theatre credits include The Phantom of the Opera, and Jack North as Tom Thumb.

Barnum follows the irrepressible imagination and dreams of Phineas T Barnum, America’s greatest showman. The story of his life and his marriage to Chairy reveals a couple who looked at the world from opposite sides of the spectrum. But she was the practical one who made Barnum’s dreams come true.

The legendary showman’s life is lit up with the colour, warmth and excitement of his imagination and he eventually teams up with J A Bailey to create Barnum and Bailey’s Circus – the Greatest Show on Earth.

Cy Coleman’s score includes Come Follow The Band, The Colours Of My Life and There’s A Sucker Born Ev’ry Minute.

Artistic director of Chichester Festival Theatre, Jonathan Church, says: ‘At the point that RENEW was given the go-ahead we had already been discussing with Cameron Mackintosh the idea of taking a completely new look at Barnum in Chichester.

‘It was our belief that the thrust stage and “concrete tent” nature of the theatre might be a good environment to reinvent this brilliant musical.’

But the new theatre space is a welcome addition.

Jonathan adds: ‘The news that we were going to move out of the theatre and create a temporary performance space led to an even more perfect possibility – Barnum in a tent.

‘We are obviously thrilled by the prospect of this production for our audiences and to be working with Cameron Mackintosh, Timothy Sheader and a wonderful cast led by Christopher Fitzgerald and Tamsin Carroll on this exciting adventure.’

Tickets: £10 to £40 from CFT on (01243) 781312 or go to cft.org.uk.