Barnum at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Linzi Hateley stars as Chairy opposite Brian Conley as Phineas T. Barnum in Barnum, which is at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton from Tuesday.
Linzi Hateley stars as Chairy opposite Brian Conley as Phineas T. Barnum in Barnum, which is at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton from Tuesday.
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Roll up ladies and gentlemen for a musical guaranteed to leave you smiling when the circus comes to town.

Barnum starring Brian Conley will be at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton from Tuesday.

Every now and again it is nice when things calm down a little bit and someone centres the show. That is what my character does throughout.

Linzi Hateley

It is based on the life of P.T. Barnum, a circus owner and one of America’s greatest showmen. Behind every great man is a great woman – and Brian is in safe hands with Linzi Hateley who plays his stage wife Chairy.

‘Chairy is one of these important roles,’ says Linzi. ‘She steers her husband in the right direction and anchors the piece.

‘There are so many wonderful circus skills on show but, like every musical, every now and again it is nice when things calm down a little bit and someone centres the show. That is what my character does throughout.’

This is Linzi’s first touring production.

‘It has been an interesting experience – normally I’m on the West End where you do your job and go home to your family, so this is a different kettle of fish altogether.’

So what makes this show stand out?

‘Having circus skills added to a musical is quite rare because usually they are just about singing, dancing and acting, so you have people in a musical that wouldn’t normally be in one.

She adds: ‘It is a great story about a real person and Brian is fanastic in it. I can’t think of anyone who is a better showman to pull this off and I would say he is giving one of the performances of his life.’

Linzi admits she didn’t get the role for her circus skills.

‘Oh hardly! I do a tiny bit of dodgy juggling but that is not what I’m there for – I’m there for the acting and the singing and the drama of it. But Brian has had to learn a lot of skills – he walks a tightrope, he eats fire, he juggles.’

What about being sawn in half? ‘You won’t see that with me no – I shall be very much in one piece.’

Barnum starring Brian Conley is at the Mayflower Theatre from June 9-20. Tickets: £25-£49.50, call (023) 8071 1811 or visit mayflower.org.uk