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  Play Details

Barnum

Mercury Theater
3745 N. Southport Ave Chicago

The greatest show on earth is the setting for the life story of Phineas Taylor Barnum. Celebrating its Chicago professional premiere, BARNUM sets this colorful personality inside the center ring of his own circus. Audiences will be thrilled with high flying acrobatics as BARNUM tells the story of America's greatest showman. This show bursts with toe tapping melodies; ballads, marches, and ragtime tunes by Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart.

Thru - Jun 16, 2013

Wednesdays: 7:30pm
Thursdays: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sundays: 2:00pm



Price: $25-$59

Show Type: Musical

Box Office: 773-325-1700

Running Time: 2hrs, 20mins; one intermission



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  Barnum Reviews

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...this eye-popping show really has a lot to please an audience likely to be walking in this theater's doors for the first time. Smart and Goodrich make sure the vocals are beautifully sung, Weygandt holds everything together (with a few flashes of unfettered inspiration; he needs room for more) and the homemade circus generally comes to town, all around you, with popcorn in the lobby. There, thank goodness, goes the neighborhood."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...The musical, skillfully directed here by L. Walter Stearns, turns out to be far less about the circus than about a man who suffered countless failures, disappointments and frustrations. He also almost upended a terrific marriage to a remarkable woman (his temperamental opposite, but also his fan) who was in many ways years ahead of her time. (Though the show unfolds in the mid-19th century, it intriguingly reflects the impact of the feminist movement of the 1970s.)"
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Hedy Weiss


NewCity Chicago - Recommended

"...While the story's high points are aided by Brenda Didier and Andrew Waters' solid choreography and director Walter Stearns' fast-paced staging, the down times are glossed over. Changing economic climates and bad investment decisions are reduced to a couple of song lines; Barnum's decision to accompany beautiful opera singer Jenny Lind (a sassy Summer Naomi Smart) on tour strains his marriage, but we never see the consequences. Some of the ensemble's circus tricks occasionally appear self-conscious and the cast seems cramped up there on the relatively intimate Mercury stage. But it's early in the run; more shows under the cast's belt will make the juggling and tumbling as effortless as the singing and dancing. Hopefully the show will soon look as much like fun as it is work."
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Lisa Buscani


Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...This family-friendly cotton-candy fluffy carnival is a perfect opportunity to usher in the warm weather. It may be still too early for excursions under the Big Top, but see if you're not tempted, yourself, to heed the finale's exhortation to "join the circus.""
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Mary Shen Barnidge


Centerstage - Highly Recommended

"...Kevin McKillip’s round-toned ringmaster, Donica Lynn’s feisty Joyce Heth (the world’s oldest woman) and Christian Libonati’s multi-talented Tom Thumb lead an ensemble of quadruple threats making this must-see, once-in-a-lifetime family friendly musical an exciting addition to Mercury Theatre’s first season."

Colin Douglas


Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...It also helps distract from Mark Bramble's paper-thin book, which has no conflict to speak of and merely grazes its subject's surface. Barnum is presented as a man whose insincerity is so absolute it becomes a substitute for truth, but any negative implications of that, beyond lovable caddishness, go unexplored. In the title role, Gene Weygandt conveys the sunny affability of the showman but misses the bumptious sleaziness of the charlatan."
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Zac Thompson


ShowBizChicago - Highly Recommended

"...It has been many years since I have been to the Circus. I have always enjoyed the animals, the talent of the acrobats, the side-shows and of course the clowns. I am happy to say that The Mercury Theater has brought the circus to Lakeview's northside with their production of the musical "Barnum". The circus feeling was truly evident while arriving at the theater being greeted by clowns on stilts and receiving a bag of pop-corn bringing the audience entering the show into the "Circus" mood, and that mood continued throughout the performance of Barnum."
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Russell Goeltenbodt


Chicago Theatre Addict - Recommended

"...The 1980 musical Barnum, which features a jovial, ear-wormy score by Cy Coleman, captured this celebrated flim-flam artist's ascent to a household name as partner in the Barnum and Bailey Circus. And Mercury Theater Chicago presents an appealing, family friendly production through June 16."
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Robert Bullen


Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...In the daunting title role (almost always on stage, he must sing, act, balance on two shoulders, and juggle), Chicago favorite Gene Weygandt makes this boyish Barnum likable and, despite the hoopla, even gentle; he takes us into all his tricks for which we forgive him everything. Cory Goodrich is radiant as all-suffering Chairy, but she could use a bit more edge in the marital squabbles. Kevin McKillip vigorously depicts Barnum's partners. Clever cameos come from Summer Naomi Smart as Jenny Lind and Christian Libonati as Tom Thumb ("Bigger Isn't Better"). No matter their ages, the ensemble consists entirely of veteran troupers. Wrigleyville now has a stunt-filled circus to rival the Cubs."
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Lawrence Bommer


Splash Magazine - Recommended

"...Like any circus worth its price of admission, there were some attractions worthy of your hard earned buck. Besides contributing to many of the on stage circus antics, Christian Libonati made for an entertaining Tom Thumb. Kevin McKillip also added to the fun with his deep ringmaster style narration that could probably quiet a room of a thousand children with one baritone decibel. And Richard and Jacqueline Penrod's scenic design included many well realized touches such as a flowing elephant (part curtain/ part puppet). I am also a sucker for a live band and the brass and cymbals delivered throughout the play. The ending grand finale was a winner too and, with flips, cartwheels, and juggles, showcased the best the play had to offer. My family and I left the theater with a smile on our face and not at all feeling like a sucker."
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Noel Schecter


ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...The creatives at the Mercury Theater, led by the visionary Walter Stearns, have set the bar quite high with Barnum. They have succeeded in establishing themselves as producers of top quality theatre. Take your entire family to see Barnum, they'll thank you. Barnum is one of the finest show mounted in Chicago in years!. Don't miss it!"
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Tom Williams


Chicago Now - Somewhat Recommended

"...BARNUM isn't the extravaganza I imagined it would be. It's more like the homespun creation it probably was in real life. For the "Come follow the band" number, the uniforms seem almost makeshift. In the circus hoopla scene, animals are wooden cutouts. Although I enjoyed it for its high-energy cast, I had anticipated more sensational pageantry from the name associated with 'the best show on earth.'"
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Katy Walsh


Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Several months ago, when I was interviewing Walter Stearns as part of my “gig” on Chicago Theatre Reviews, a Comcast monthly tv show, I said to him that doing a production of “Barnum” on the stage at his Mercury Theater, might have been a little to much of a “bite” to chew on. This is a small intimate theater with a small, intimate stage and “Barnum” is a “three ring musical”. I mean, when was the last time a theater took on this challenge. Walter assured me that he and his staff were well aware of the challenge that they had taken on and were up to accepting it 200%. Well, tonight this production opened at The Mercury Theater and not only did Walter bite it, and chew it, but he was able to spit out one of this season’s best productions on any stage! Take note Jeff committee, you may have found your award winner(s) with this wonderful production of the life story of one P.T.Barnum."
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Alan Bresloff


Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...The set design was a circus tent, which came alive in all of the right ways. The way the direction, the lighting, and the set came together at the most important moments of the story provided the spectacle necessary for this production to really soar. L. Walter Stearns did an excellent job of balancing the spectacle with the heart to create an extremely enjoyable evening. It all begins in the lobby right before the show... 'What begins?' you ask? That I can't tell you. You'll just have to grab a bag of popcorn from the nice man in the red and white striped apron and find out for yourself."

Olivia Lilley


Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Somewhat Recommended

"...The production doesn't lack for high spirits and eagerness to entertain. But there is a reason why "Barnum" is so seldom revived. It's a show that must wow the audience or it flounders. The Mercury production, with the best will in the world, just doesn't wow."
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Dan Zeff


   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the opening night judges of The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee. The entire production is then eligible for nomination for awards at the end of the season.
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