By Eleni Pappas
Art by Tori Roberts
An audience fills the stands, shouting and stomping their feet in a rhythmic pattern, waiting in anticipation for the show to finally begin. An array of acts like never before, a revolutionary form of entertainment, bearded ladies singing, an eight foot tall giant, gymnasts being thrown through the air hundreds of feet up. All of it led by one man, The Greatest Showman.
Famous celebrities step back into the musical spotlight in the film such as Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables) and Zac Efron (High School Musical). Zendaya takes a major role for the second time in 2017. The historical musical drama movie was released on Dec. 20 of last year, directed by first time movie director Michael Gracey, and is anticipated to win in the upcoming Oscars.
The story begins with young P.T. Barnum, played by Jackman, who is the son of a poor tailor. The beginning quickly zooms through how he falls in love with his wife Charity, actress Michelle Williams, and begins a family. Once he gets let go from his desk job Barnum takes out a loan to start a wax museum, which quickly fails. Then he takes from his childhood memories as inspiration to start a circus.
As we see the rise of Barnum and the Circus’ fame, we also get to see Efron’s and Zendaya’s characters, Phillip Carlyle and Anne Wheeler, fall in love. Carlyle is Barnum’s protege, and Wheeler is an African American trapeze artist, and the two come together on the show. Audiences get to witness the historical romance between two people coming from different worlds and dealing with the issues that come with that. There was hardly enough of this delicate relationship and it should have been more of a focus. The chemistry between Zendaya and Efron is palpable, and Efron even said in multiple interviews that theirs was his best onscreen kiss due to their characters’ story.
The Greatest Showman’s music has quickly grown in popularity. Its soundtrack rising to number 5 on BillBoard 200 albums chart and “This Is Me” won Golden Globe’s award for Best Original Song. “Rewrite The Stars,” sang by Efron and Zendaya, is also a favorite. Gasps were heard during the scene their characters sang together, flying through the air. Certain parts cause chills, such as the iconic opening scene when Jackman softly sings the “ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve waited for” lyric in the “Greatest Show.” The song writing features Benj Pasek and Justin Pau, known for their songs in La La Land for which they won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.
The film takes audiences on an adventure of a lifetime, filled with its highs and lows. Within the theater, there definitely was a major share of those without any dry eyes. Some shed tears within in the first few minutes, seeing Barnum and Charity’s love story. Others waited more toward the end, on a less happy note, due to any number of reasons. When the movie ended people walked out, singing the tune of the songs they remembered.
All in all, the film ultimately circles around themes of following dreams, uniting family, and staying true to oneself. Barnum’s struggle with fame and his family, the forbidden romance, and the circus act’s fighting to be proud of their uniqueness all go to show that. The issues these characters face, and often sing about, are relatable. As Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus closes its curtains, The Greatest Showman is a fitting final homage to Barnum’s dream that lived on stage for 146 years.