Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Brian Conley performing as PT Barnum at Liverpool Empire

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Provided By: Liverpool Empire Theatre

The national tour of the Cameron Mackintosh and Chichester Festival Theatre smash hit production of the musical Barnum bursts on to the Liverpool Empire stage from Tuesday May 19-Saturday May 23.

Joining Brian Conley as PT Barnum and Linzi Hateley as Chairy are Kimberly Blake as Jenny Lind; Mikey Jay-Heath as Tom Thumb; Landi Oshinowo as Joice Heth and John Stacey as Ringmaster/Bailey. They are joined by: Georgie Ashford; Greg Bernstein; David Birch; Nick Butcher; Alison Connell; Stefan Dermendjiev; Silvia Dopazo; Chris Gage; Joanna Goodwin; Pascal Haering; Rebecca Hawkins; Erin Jameson; Courtney-Mae Briggs; Jen Robinson; Louis Stockil; Lucy Thatcher and Edward Wade.

Brian Conley is one of the UK’s most versatile actors and performers. He most recently scored a huge success as Fagin in the national tour of Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Oliver! His recent West End stage credits include Edna Turnblad in Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre and Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium. One of the highlights of his career was originating the role of another great iconic American showman Al Jolson in Jolson at the Victoria Palace for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical. On television he is probably best known for playing Doug Digby in The Grimleys, his ITV1 show The Brian Conley Show, his hugely successful An Audience With Brian Conley and numerous Royal Variety Performances.

Linzi Hateley is an award-winning actress who has starred on Broadway, in the West End, with the RSC and at the National Theatre. She created the role of Mrs Banks in Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins and was nominated for an Olivier Award for her performance as The Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Her many other West End credits include Donna in Mamma Mia!, Roxie in Chicago, Rizzo in Grease and Eponine in Les Misérables. She most recently appeared in the National Theatre’s smash hit production of London Road.

Kimberley Blake's theatre credits include Momo at the Greenwich Theatre; The Sound Of Music at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park; A Little Night Music at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre; Once Upon A Mattress at the Union Theatre and Sweeney Todd at the Adelphi Theatre.

Mikey Jay-Heath's theatre credits include Peter Pan and Teenage Kicks at The Millennium Forum, Derry.

Landi Oshinowo has recently finished a national tour of Fame. Her West End credits include The Light Princess at the National Theatre; Shrek The Musical at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and Sister Act at the London Palladium. Other theatre credits include Tommy on UK tour; Sweet Soul Music on UK tour and Dancing In The Streets on UK/European tour.

John Stacey most recently appeared in Stephen Ward at the Aldwych Theatre. Previous theatre credits include The Pajama Game at the Chichester Festival Theatre; Top Hat at the Aldwych Theatre; Lend Me A Tenor at the Theatre Royal Plymouth and the Gielgud Theatre; Me and My Girl at the Sheffield Crucible; Hello Dolly at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park; Acorn Antiques the Musical at the Theatre Royal Haymarket; Anything Goes at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and My Fair Lady at the National Theatre and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

This production of Barnum opened at Chichester Festival Theatre’s Theatre in the Park in July last year and became one of the most successful musicals in the 51 year history of Chichester Festival Theatre with a record box office attendance of almost 70,000 people. The musical follows the irrepressible imagination and dreams of Phineas T Barnum, America’s Greatest Showman. The story of his life and his marriage to Chairy reveals a couple who looked at the world from opposite sides of the spectrum, and also reveals that she was the practical one who made Barnum’s dreams come true. The production follows the legendary showman’s life as he lit up the world with the colour, warmth and excitement of his imagination and finally teamed up with JA Bailey to create Barnum and Bailey’s Circus – the Greatest Show on Earth.

Cy Coleman’s wonderfully exuberant score includes the hits Come Follow The Band, The Colours Of My Life and There Is A Sucker Born Ev’ry Minute.

Barnum has music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Michael Stewart and a book by Mark Bramble in a revised version by Cameron Mackintosh and Mark Bramble. This new production is directed by Jean-Pierre Van Der Spuy, adapted from the original 2013 Chichester Festival Theatre production directed by Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel, with choreography by Andrew Wright. Musical supervision is by Stephen Brooker and Musical Direction by Ian Townsend, Orchestrations by William David Brohn and Sound Design by Mick Potter. The original Lighting Design is by Paule Constable with Tour Lighting by Richard Pacholski and Simon Sherriff. Costume Design is by Paul Willis, Scenic Design by Scott Pask and Associate Scenic Design by Lone Schacksen. Circus Consultancy is by Juliette Hardy-Donaldson.

Barnum was a smash-hit when it opened on Broadway in 1980. Starring Glenn Close and Jim Dale, it won three Tony Awards and a Drama Desk Award. When Barnum opened at the London Palladium in 1981, Michael Crawford took the lead, winning an Olivier Award for his performance.

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