The Greatest Showman is the Oscar nominated (and robbed, in my humble opinion) musical story of P.T. Barnum’s life. Don’t stop reading just because I said musical! I know most people hear the word and make (if I’m being honest) quite the unattractive face. But as one of the creators of this musical said, and I’m paraphrasing: with a good musical you leave the theater singing the songs. Boy, have we ever!
I saw it first with a friend on a random Tuesday night and after, we both went to our own homes and stayed up till way after midnight listening to the music. I started choreographing a dance routine to my favorite song from the soundtrack ("Never Enough")… at midnight... on a weekday. Even when I realized I should force myself to go to bed - I lied awake, heart pounding, looking forward to when I could hear that music again. My friend had the soundtrack downloaded before he got home from the theater and listened to it multiple times that night. And though I’ve never asked him, I don’t think he’d say he’s a “fan” of musicals.
The next morning, my kids were whining about, well- morning, and I put the soundtrack on. Immediate silence. Followed by questions. Followed by more intriguing questions. Ending with, “Can we hear that again?” Let me tell you, when I meet Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the songwriters - I’ll kiss them just for that. I’ve confessed before - I’m not a morning person. Anything that makes mornings easier has my undying gratitude.
Fast forward a week - my family knows almost all the words to every song in the soundtrack. Finally… we go see it together. My husband, one of the face makers when the word musical is thrown out, and our two kids: son, 7, daughter, 6. This time, I watch with the eagle eye of a trained dancer. Not just a pawn in their sightline game, I’m checking choreography, backup dancers, movement quality - and I fall even more in love!
Let me preface this with saying, when I was younger and saw the movie Chicago for the first time - I was blown away. When I saw it the second time, I felt like I had been cheated! The dances were mostly camera angles, quick cuts, lighting tricks - I was heartbroken. I half expected the same thing on this second viewing. Needless to say, I don't think I've ever been happier to be wrong. Though they use wonderful lighting, camera angles, etc - they give us real dancing! And it’s ever so uplifting. As is the message: create your world - don't let anyone else define you.
Now, if this is a true critique, I should mention the one thing I wish they had done differently. The secondary love story of Zendaya and Zac Efron left me wanting more. I wish the movie had taken the time to flesh out Zendaya's character. I love a forbidden love story as much as the next gal, but I need more than the fact it's forbidden. I need to know the characters I'm cheering for to cheer for them. Just give me a little more in the sequel;)
I said this was a quickie, so I’ll wrap my review up with this - some students went to see it upon my persistent recommendation and said “[we’ll] never doubt you again.” My daughter, product of the Frozen and Moana era, (both wonderful) walked out of the theater and said, “That was the most favorite movie I’ve ever seen.”:) My son said it was his second favorite: to Star Wars. Now we all, husband included, sing and dance around the house to this soundtrack… daily, if I’m being honest;) Treat yourself. Go see it on the big screen this weekend - it’s worth the price of admission. No, I don't get kickbacks for ticket purchases;) I just want you dancing and singing along with us!