Story by Danata Paulino
Photo courtesy of Billboard
“Taking your breath, stealing your mind, all that was real is left behind.” For one hour and 45 minutes, the world outside the theatre was the last thing on my mind. For months the excitement of “The Greatest Showman” had grown. A movie musical about the guy that started the circus? It seemed a little silly, but silly sells and leads me and thousands of others to the theatre for a ticket.
Director Michael Gracey set the scene with leading stars Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, and Zendaya. With a cast like this, it seemed impossible for it not to be a hit (Not to mention, the idea of seeing Zac Efron in a musical since his “High School Musical” days definitely drew an audience from my generation). Music writers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul surely have another award-winning album on their hands to add to the success of Hollywood’s “La La Land” and Broadway’s “Dear Evan Hansen.” It is impossible to not sit on the edge of your seat; the urge to stand up and applaud will almost overcome you.
The first five minutes open with all the pomp and circumstance one would expect from the opening to The Greatest Show. Hugh Jackman sold himself to the part of P.T. Barnum with flare and grace. This was not Jackman’s first role in the movie musical universe. Although most know him as Wolverine from the Marvel Universe, back in 2012 the world was introduced to him as an astounding musical talent in Les Miserables. Here, Jackman gave an enchanting performance as the dreamer Barnum that will leave even the doubters hopeful. It is true, though, that all dreamers have their faults, which takes him on his vigorous journey to new discoveries. He has to learn about what the world thinks of him versus what he thinks of himself.
No movie or musical would be complete without an intriguing romance. Zac Efron and Zendaya are Phillip Carlyle and Anne Wheeler, an ill-suited couple that is restricted by the issues of their present time. “The Greatest Showman” presented the storyline well, though, by not resolving the issue through one cliché song and dance. There is a spark that burns without contact and doesn’t ignore the obstacles. The chemistry between Efron and Zendaya is wonderful and stunning as we see their characters evolve. Both had their strong starts with Disney, so it was no surprise that their talents expand through acting, dance, and voice. There were no disappointments; if anything my respect for them as performers grew immensely. You will be rooting for their relationship’s success from the beginning.
“The Greatest Showman” is hands down a don’t leave your seat, refill on popcorn, or take a bathroom break kind of movie. My friends and I stayed in our seats up until the last credit rolled. Similar to a Marvel movie, we didn’t want miss anything and were already singing along to the memorable lyrics. Although there were some moments that pulled me out of the magic and made me think, “Ok, that’s a little too unrealistic for a ‘based on a true story’”, the overall plot and design were well developed. The note to always keep in mind is that it is in fact a musical, which allows it some liberties from a normal show. After all, as P.T. Barnum says, “No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.”