PREVIEW: Barnum @ Chichester Festival Theatre

tumblr_inline_mmdj9n5PRt1qz4rgpWhen your main auditorium is being thoroughly refurbished and upgraded (when we were there last week it seemed like everything bar the outer walls was gone), how do you go about staging a major musical with a sizeable cast and a lot of action? If you’re Chichester Festival Theatre, you head across the road and build a state of the art temporary performing space in a park. Then you decide to put on the perfect show.

Barnum has long been a favourite of mine, action packed and yet with a deceptively good story, so the thought of a major professional production is exciting enough. That it’s being performed in a large tent just makes it all the more interesting.

It’s intriguing too, to see ‘presented in association with Cameron Mackintosh’ amongst the listings, with the don of the West End involved we can’t help but assume we’ll see a transfer in this shows future!

Barnum is hardly a standard musical and as such, a different setting and a unique approach is the best way to make it shine. Step forward then multiple Olivier Award winner Timothy Sheader. Since 2007 Timothy has been artistic director of the Regents Park Open Air Theatre where his innovative productions, of ‘Into The Woods’, ‘Crazy For You’ and more have marked him out as a director never afraid to try something different.

Working alongside Timothy is co-director and choreographer Liam Steelwhose credits include many Regents Park productions as well as the musical staging for the ‘Les Misérables’ film. Joining him as co-choreographer isAndrew Wright, well known at the Festival Theatre for his stunning choreography for ‘Singin In The Rain’.

Of course, no show is complete without a cast, and leading them in the title role will be Christopher Fitzgerald. Christopher is a well-known name on Broadway who has appeared in a number of shows winning awards for performances including Og in ‘Finian’s Rainbow’. He originated the part of Boq in ‘Wicked’ and appeared opposite Al Pacino in ‘The Merchant of Venice’.Tamsin Carroll will play Barnum’s wife Chairy. Most recently seen in the West End playing Nancy in ‘Oliver’, she has received huge critical acclaim in her native Australia for her performance in the title role of ‘Dusty’.


Barnum is at Theatre in the Park from 15 July – 31 August, Evenings 7.30pm (except for the Press Night on Wednesday 24 July, 7.00pm), Matinees 2.30pm. Tickets: Previews July 15, 16 and 17 £10 – £30, Other Previews/Press Night £15 – £35, Evenings/Matinees  £16 – £40. To book online, go to or contact the Box Office on 01243 781312.

Special Prices for 18s – 25s

An allocation of tickets for 18s – 25s priced at just £8.50 for all performances of Barnum will be released on Saturday 15 June. These may be booked on 01243 781312, online at or in person.

Director Timothy Sheader and Co-Director Liam Steel will be in conversation about Barnum with author Kate Mosse on Monday 22 July, 6.00pm, in the Theatre in the Park. Tickets for this pre-show talk are free; please book in advance through the Box Office on 01243 781312 or online at

After Words – join some of the Company of Barnum after the performance to discover more about the production on Monday 12 August.

Full Cast & Crew



Christopher Fitzgerald           Barnum

Tamsin Carroll                       Chairy Barnum

Aretha Ayeh                           Joice Heath

Anna O’Byrne                        Jenny Lind

Jack North                              Tom Thumb

Rachael Archer                      Ensemble

Jacquie Biggs                         Swing

Nick Butcher                           Ensemble

Sophie Camble                       Ensemble

Jon-Scott Clark                       Swing

Leon Cooke                            Ensemble

Stefan Dermendjiev                Ensemble

Faith-Louise Francis              Swing

Chris Gage                             Ensemble

A C Garcia                              Ensemble

Trina Hill                                 Ensemble

Jack Horner                            Ensemble

Erin Jameson                          Ensemble

Jasmine Kerr                          Ensemble

Mitch Leow                             Swing

James O’Connell                    Ensemble

Michaela O’Connor                Ensemble

Max Parker                             Ensemble

Tom Scanlon                          Ensemble

Lucie-Mae Sumner                 Ensemble

Robert Tregoning                   Ensemble

Creative Team

Timothy Sheader                    Director

Liam Steel                               Co-director and Choreographer
Andrew Wright                        Co-choreographer

Scott Pask                              Set Designer

Paul Wills                                Costume Designer

William David Brohn               Orchestrations

Stephen Brooker                     Musical Supervisor

Adam Rowe                            Musical Director

Paule Constable                     Lighting Designer
Mick Potter                             Sound Designer

Vicki Amedume                      Circus Consultant


Matt has been writing on all manner of subjects for over 15 years. He has written for a number of music magazines, made appearances on BBC Introducing and regularly contributed to local newspapers. These days he mostly writes about theatre, but also enjoys covering sport, especially rugby.

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