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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites
I have a love of obscure musicals, and this has got to be the best show that noone has ever heard of (next to maybe Assassins). I did get to see a community theatre production that, frankly, blew me away, and I instantly fell in love with the character and the show.

You have to see the show to truly appreciate this score. The DVD with Michael Crawford is...
Published on April 2, 2004

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, But Not The Best Cy Coleman Musical
This 1980 Cy Coleman musical, starring the terrific Jim Dale and Glen Close, has its moments, but doesn't compare with his best efforts: "Sweet Charity", "City Of Angels", "The Life" or "The Will Rogers Follies".

Best Tracks:

There's A Sucker Born Ev'ry Minute
One Brick At A Time
Come Follow The Band (great Act II opener!)
Published on September 16, 2005 by AJK


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites, April 2, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Barnum (1980 Original Broadway Cast) (Audio CD)
I have a love of obscure musicals, and this has got to be the best show that noone has ever heard of (next to maybe Assassins). I did get to see a community theatre production that, frankly, blew me away, and I instantly fell in love with the character and the show.

You have to see the show to truly appreciate this score. The DVD with Michael Crawford is wonderful, but it really doesn't do it justice; live on stage, it's an incredible infusion of energy and in-your-face theatrical magic. The only show that I've seen that is as magical as "Barnum" is perhaps "Wicked," which benefits from more than two decades of technological advances. It's not really fair to compare the two.

I personally think that "The Colors of My Life," while rather trite, is a wonderfully simple way of showing the contrasting relationship between Barnum and his down-to-earth wife Chairy. The lyrics are very Sondheim-like in their simplicity and symbolism. (See Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park with George" for an example of what I mean; Sondheim is a master of saying mountains with just a few words.)

While that song is nice enough, it's really Jim Dale, the con-man incarnate, that sells it to you. "There Is a Sucker..." is perhaps the gem of the show, but there's plenty more to love. Glenn Close gives a joyfully heart-filled performance in "One Brick at a Time" and the ensemble just sparkles in "Join the Circus" and "Come Follow the Band," which just might be the greatest Act II opening number ever. You'll be singing it for weeks. As if that isn't enough, all of the "specialty" numbers ("Thank God I'm Old," "Bigger Isn't Better," and "Love Makes Such Fools...") are tremendous.

I could probably go through this soundtrack track by track and write why I love each one in particular; that's how great this CD is. However, I have to add a caveat; if you haven't seen the show, it might not mean as much to you as it does to me. If you're thinking about buying it, just buy it; don't worry about thanking me.

If you happen to be a Cy Coleman fan, enjoy the bonus tracks, which are more interesting for historical reasons than musically. Still fun to listen to.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a gorgeous score, December 20, 2002
By 
Byron Kolln (the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Barnum (1980 Original Broadway Cast) (Audio CD)
Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart's BARNUM is one of the most joyful and exciting of all Broadway musicals, which provides a wonderful account of the life of P.T. Barnum, showman extraordinaire.
Jim Dale, as Barnum, is a revelation. He offers a touching rendition of "The Colors of My Life" (the score's singular hit), as well as an energetic "Out There" when he has to decide between a life with his wife or an affair with singing star Jenny Lind.
Glenn Close (in the role that got Hollywood knocking) is a delight as Charity "Chairy" Barnum, the put-upon wife who knows what is best for her husband and tries to steer him along a path that will see him put his dreams aside. She offers her own glowing rendition of "Colors" as well as the jaunty "I Like Your Style" in a duet with Dale; and the show-stopping number "One Brick at a Time" is ably-led by her soaring voice. In 1993, Glenn Close returned to Broadway to star in SUNSET BOULEVARD. Play this recording back-to-back with SUNSET and you will be amazed at the difference in her voice.
Marianne Tatum is given the beautifully-written role of Jenny Lind, the "Swedish nightingale" who steals Barnum away for a torrid affair. She is given the gorgeous "Love Makes Such Fools of Us All", and sings it for all its worth.
Terri White, in her dual-roles of Joice Heth and the leading singer in "Black and White" is given ample time to display her amazing belt. In Joice's number "Thank God I'm Old", she slightly restrains her voice, but in "Black and White", watch out! She lets her voice climb to the rafters and you will be a fan forever.
All-in-all, this superb recording of BARNUM is a must.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Nice Musical, March 15, 2003
By 
Beabea (Chicago, Illinois USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Barnum (1980 Original Broadway Cast) (Audio CD)
When Barnum first opened in 1980, it was acclaimed as the best musical of 1980, the musical amazement. Some critics expected it to sweep the Tony Awards, and it might have if "Evita" hadn't appeared. When the Tony awards were over, Barnum was left with a disappointing three Tony Awards for Best Actor, Best Scenic Design and Best Costumes. Without the Best Musical award it was also left to fall into musical obscurity. This is a shame because it is actually a respectable musical. The musical is definitely not perfect. The book was weak and it depended significantly on its star Jim Dale. The reason that you should buy this CD, however, is because the music is actually very good. Cy Coleman provided a strong score that was enhanced by the orchestrations of the incomparable Hersh Kay. Yes, it's true that you can hear stars Jim Dale and Glenn Close struggling to harmonize on some songs, but the energy of their performance is beautiful.

This CD also includes some of the original demos done for the show including a few songs that never made it into the finished production. Of these, I think that fans of the show would really enjoy "So Little Time" in which Barnum sings to Charity shortly before she dies - "Where did it go, this lifetime, hurrying by. How did it fly away, leaving so little time to tell you so many things I always meant to say." It is beautiful and it's amazing that it didn't make the final cut into the show.

The original recording is very difficult to find and it is nice to see that the Broadway version is available again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't get it out of my head, May 12, 2006
This review is from: Barnum (1980 Original Broadway Cast) (Audio CD)
I saw this production with Jim Dale and Glenn Close when I was 14 years old at the St James Theater in NY, with my drama club. It was my first BIG show ever, and to this day rates in the top 5 productions I have seen.

Enjoyed so much that even as a young teen I bought (and still own) the album, even though I have nothing to play it on. Still, 26 years later here I am, very surprised and pleased to find this CD version available, needless to say I'm buying it.

It was interesting to read some of the comments here. The only song I didn't care for was the operetta "Swedish Nightingale" song. If the creator was trying to get us to hate the "other woman", just by using that song he succeeded.

Yes PLEASE ignore the London version. It simply does not compare. I can still see clearly in my mind, Jim Dale on the tightrope, Glenn Close with her bricks, and the whitefaced clown who entertained the audience prior to the opening act. You had to be there, but even if you weren't, there are enough upbeat and happy songs here to get you tapping your toes, and even a few that might make you a bit introspective.

And hey, learning the "Museum Song" by heart is a great way to spend time in a traffic jam.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overdue CD of a Great Show, July 22, 2002
This review is from: Barnum (1980 Original Broadway Cast) (Audio CD)
Barnum was the first Broadway show I ever saw and my LP is practically worn out from playing it. I had given up on there ever being a CD and was wonderfully surprised when I decided to try searching again. As another reviewer stated, the wonderful physical nature of the show cannot be translated. It should be noted that the cast included members of the Big Apple Circus and that part of the show included tightrope walking across the stage! The spectacle of the show only lasted as long as Jim Dale kept the title role, unfortunately, and revivals, such as the one with Michael Crawford, are doomed to failure. As such, hearing the CD and picturing Jim Dale and future stars like Glenn Close and Terrence Mann (Les Miserables' Javert) brings back wonderful memories. I am sure that, even without having those memories, anyone will enjoy the music and energy that the soundtrack presents.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be a "Sucker" and Buy This!!, May 30, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Barnum (1980 Original Broadway Cast) (Audio CD)
This is an underrated and surprisingly listenable original cast recording of an underrated and surprisingly entertaining show. "Barnum" opened on Broadway 22 years ago and had a healthy 2 year run, but it was never considered a classic or even memorable show. At the time, pompous shows like "Evita" were all the rage, while more traditional ones like "Barnum" were considered antiquities. But unlike other, older shows that were once popular but have since fallen deservedly into obscurity ("Two Gentlmen of Verona" comes to mind), "Barnum" still comes alive with some memorable songs and an energetic cast. It's surprising how durable these melodies are. "There's a Sucker...", "The Colors of My Life" and "One Brick at a Time" are three of the unexpected pleasures here, but overall the music never really slacks and these tunes stay with you. The performances have enthusiasm, even if Glenn Close's wobbly chops sometimes threaten to spiral off the melody. On one song, the otherwise pleasant "I Like Your Style", she and Jim Dale compete for who can harmonize off key with the most consistency; it's a tie. But mostly the energy and characterization of the leads make up for any vocal deficiencies. The sound of this CD is rather crisp and dynamic, a tribute to the original recording and engineering. Overall, a worthwhile addition to any Original Broadway Cast collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heads up TERRI WHITE fans!, June 30, 2002
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Barnum (1980 Original Broadway Cast) (Audio CD)
You all know what the Mac Award Winner is capable of today.Here's your chance to hear THANK GOD I'M OLD and BLACK AND WHITE.Both were unforgetable crowd pleasing numbers.Let everyone else tell you about Jim Dale and Glenn Close.Or debate the relative merits of the British(Michael Crawford) vs American versions.This CD wins because it features the incomparable Terri White. If you have never heard her , tease yourself with the 30 second audio clip of THANK GOD I'M OLD ,and the next time you're in NYC stop by Rose's Turn on Grove Street. If you're lucky she'll be singing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, definitely a great show to watch let alone hear., March 16, 2005
This review is from: Barnum (1980 Original Broadway Cast) (Audio CD)
I love everything about these songs. I wasn't much of a circus showtune person until I watched my classmates reenact it in our new auditorium. I love everything about Phineus Taylor Barnum's history. I play in the pit for the high school show, and it's the most fun music to play. I love it. I definitely recommend this to anybody.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Toe-Tapping Fabulous!, June 5, 2002
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Barnum (1980 Original Broadway Cast) (Audio CD)
"Barnum" is one of the best musicals ever written and one of my favorites. It didn't gain the tremendous fame of so many others because it was robbed by the vastly inferior "Evita" at the 1981 Tony Awards--which subsequently hogged all the publicity.
Jim Dale was incredible as Barnum, and his tour-de-force performance carries over well to an audio format.
The music itself is energizing, fun, melodic and memorable in the greatest tradition of musical theater. A circus feel in the orchestrations captures calliopes and clowns. The only bad song in the score is "I Like Your Style". As another reviewer here has already noted, the singing there is frequently off-key and the style of the song (ironically) is inconsistent with that of the others and of the show itself. The remainder of the score is uniformly well-written and superbly performed.
I had the good fortune to see "Barnum" on Broadway the 3rd night after it opened in 1980 and I've worn out 3 tapes of the soundtrack since then. I had despaired of ever finding this on c.d. The re-release has made my day! If you love classic musical theater that doesn't take itself too seriously and remembers that fun is its purpose, you'll enjoy this rollicking and original selection.
As a final note, anyone familiar with and unimpressed by the Michael Crawford recording and/or performance of "Barnum" shouldn't be put off. The music was slowed and 'Pop'-ed up for that version and is very different from the original. That Michael Crawford was miscast as the lead didn't help. The result was...unfortunate. Forget Michael. Jim Dale's "Barnum" is king!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Welcome Return, July 15, 2002
By 
Alan Breck (Jersey City, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Barnum (1980 Original Broadway Cast) (Audio CD)
One of the best Broadway musicals of the 80s comes to dazzling new life on this CD reissue. Jim Dale gives one of the most accomplished performances ever to grace a stage, and, although his physical acrobatics can't be appreciated on CD, his verbal gymnastics more than suffice. The rest of the cast- including Glenn Close- provide able support. Cy Coleman's bouncy tunes and Michael Stewart's clever lyrics display more old-fashioned showmanship than anything performed on a New York stage in recent memory.
This disc includes four bonus tracks in which Coleman and Stewart audition some of the show's songs. Two of these songs did not make the final production. One of the omissions can be excused, but they should have used the lovely "At Least I Tried."
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Barnum (1980 Original Broadway Cast)
Barnum (1980 Original Broadway Cast) by Cy Coleman (Audio CD - 2002)
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