The Greatest Showman

‘The Greatest Showman’ Review

20th Century Fox

A story of childhood dreams, the joy of performance, and determination through adversity, The Greatest Showman brings to life the true tale of visionary P.T. Barnum and his quest to not only make it in the world of show business, but to be the ultimate showman.

The film, which is currently nominated for three Golden Globes, is set in the 1800s and presents Barnum’s story authentically through the lens of period piece costumes, financial crises and societal conventions of the time. The Greatest Showman begins on a dark note by presenting a young Barnum, played by Ellis Rubin, living amidst the deepest of 19th century poverty. Despite his struggle for survival as a child, young Barnum envisions a magical future for himself which he stays true to as he grows to marry, have children and work a white-collar career to support his family.

Source: 20th Century Fox

Barnum’s journey into the world of show business begins with quite a few failed attempts, but with the help of his wife, played by the lovely Michelle Williams, and two daughters, he is inspired to create a performance by bringing together a group of outsiders. Barnum’s unique show attracts global audiences and quickly expands into a worldwide tour, especially once the ethereal voice of Opera singer Jenny Lind joins the troupe.

This original musical follows the inspiring story of a man who creates a family from a group of unique individuals ostracized by society for their differences, while still trying to be the best possible father and husband within his own family. Barnum’s circus creates a culture that celebrates individuality and a world that brings infectious joy and laughter to its crowds; yet while watching Barnum’s circus succeed, it’s clear his core values begin to slip as he finds himself trapped in the glamour and distractions of fame.

Hugh Jackman takes on the complex role of Barnum flawlessly with his charisma, musical talent and extreme passion for show business. He makes the challenging life of Barnum relatable and tells the story in a way in which the audience truly emphasizes with Barnum’s triumphs and failures. Jackman has a past working in musical theatre, most recently in Les Miserables, but his portrayal of Barnum is particularly exceptional. Jackman effortlessly transitions into the contemporary and pop genre from a background in the classics, which makes it no surprise that his performance is nominated for a Golden Globe.

Source: 20th Century Fox

Jackman is joined on the big screen by Zac Efron and teen sensation Zendaya, which adds appeal for a younger demographic as well. Efron takes on the role of the privileged Philip Carlyle, who Barnum convinces into joining his troupe as his protege. Despite being born into the upper class, Carlyle himself struggles to find where he belongs, especially when his affections grow for the pink-haired trapeze artist played by Zendaya. The chemistry on screen between Efron and Zendaya is undeniable, as the two present the story of star-crossed lovers mixed up in the pressures of societal expectations and desire. Their slow-motion duet number is simply magical and arguably one of the film’s best sequences.

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Another noteworthy actress is Rebecca Ferguson, who plays Opera singer Jenny Lind. Her solo performances are the few numbers in the film that are presented in a bare minimum way with a single spotlight and a solo voice, yet her performance of “Never Enough” is powerful, transcendent and worthy of goosebumps. That being said, it’s really Loren Allred who deserves the credit here, as she performs all of Ferguson’s vocal tracks.

Oscar-winning songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, best known for their work in La La Land, are the powerful forces behind The Greatest Showman’s musical vision. Their work has already been acknowledged and nominated for a 2018 Golden Globe for the best original song in a motion picture for the song “This is Me.”

Along with the musical talent comes the choreography behind the impeccably coordinated group dance numbers. The birds-eye view shots and quick moving frames show off the intricacy and timely coordination of each individual person into making the group numbers as lively and vibrant as they are.

The costume design is also quite remarkable with up to 800 unique pieces included in the film. Emmy Award-winning designer Ellen Mirojnick perfectly encapsulated the time-period by putting Jackman and Efron in the classic circus showrunner getup but still using modern textures and fashion-forward shapes that are worthy of a Vogue editorial spread.

Source: 20th Century Fox

From the intricate costumes, contagious music and the impeccably choreographed performances, The Greatest Showman is definitely a must-see this holiday season! The film has appeal for every member of the family and presents strong morals of self-acceptance, human equality and the importance of a place to call home. Barnum’s life played through the enthusiastic Jackman presents an awe-inspiring tale of a man who created a worldwide spectacle from nothing and who discovers that family is the ultimate prize.


Featuring stellar performances and a contagious soundtrack,The Greatest Showman is the must-watch musical of the holiday season.


Olivia Di Pede