So, there are plenty of musicals written about horrible people that turn out good. I don't know if Barnum ever had a chance, though, because it HAD to be a circus-themed, circus-sounding show.
I HATE circuses. No, I've never been to one.. but that's because I'd hate them. I love animals (and therefore wouldn't want to be them paraded around at the circus), I respect acrobats a lot (same deal, although I'm sure they're not treated as horribly, now), and don't even get me started on clowns. Ok, I'm started. The humor of a clown, a traditional CLOWN, is not for me. I just don't like that type of humor. I don't like the Three Stooges, I don't like Comedy of Errors and I don't think Cam from Modern Family is funny, either.
Back to circuses. For some reason I feel like the following situation has happened to me several times: I'll be in a musical improv group and we'll ask the audience for a suggestion about what they'd like to see a show about. Someone will say "a circus!" and we'll do the show... meanwhile, I'm thinking, "THIS is what you want to see a show about????? Out of all the things on earth or in your imagination, you chose A CIRCUS????"
PT Barnum would have hated me because I'd be standing outside, with my arms crossed, rolling my eyes, yelling, "NO. LET'S GO!"
So, I didn't enjoy anything about this show EXCEPT for the patter song, "Museum Song," which has a catchy melody. I don't feel bad for his wife (She SAYS exactly why I shouldn't feel bad for her before she starts singing her first song), I think HE should go to jail, and the rest is just dumb. I do think it was probably something to truly behold in the original production -- it sounds like it was probably pretty impressive. However, the plot? the music? I have only one thing to say to you, and that's:
"NO. LET'S GO."
Music by Cy Coleman (whose work I generally really enjoy)
Lyrics by Michael Stewart
Book by Mark Bramble