Barnum On Ice


I had never been to an ice show before so I was not sure what to expect. I walked out of the theatre having watched one of the most beautiful shows I have ever seen. The first half of the show told the story of the great showman Phileas Taylor Barnum, famous for Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth & the line, "There's a sucker born every minute." While the second treated us to the circus itself.

First on stage was Barnum himself played by singer David Lawrence to introduce the show, but he gets heckled from two mysterious strangers in the front row. They come up on stage & take Mr Barnum back through various stages in his life. To when he sold lottery tickets for his own personal lottery at age twelve, when he owned his own newspaper & went to jail for libel. His love affair with the Swedish songstress, the building & opening of his museum to his meeting with Mr James Bailey.

All the scenes in Barnum's life were played out with beautifully choreographed skating. With figure skating such as this highlighting individual tricks the performers pull off is rather pointless. Spins, jumps, acrobalance, twists & turns were all performed with graceful fluidity. The performers glide across the ice seemingly without any effort at all.

My favourite act was the Herald of Freedom, the skaters danced as members of the public with a copy of Barnum's paper. The shaking & rustling of the paper along with the scrape of metal on ice kept its own rhythm within the music.

It wasn't all about the skating though, the theatrical side was pleasantly more prominent than I had expected, each dance told a part of the story & represented the emotions of the characters. During & in between acts there was witty dialogue with jokes about Geoffrey Archer & Michael Crawford, the lead's skating inferiority made a great running gag through the show too.

The circus show in the second half saw the skaters show off their skills learnt through training with the Moscow State Circus. Aerialy there were static & spinning corde Lisse & moon trapeze acts plus a very beautiful act climbing two silk curtains. On the ice there was a gladiatorial duel, the teasing of a strongman by three naughty kids & a great UV spot. Best of the lot though was the highland dancing & acrobatic skipping (surely that must dig a hole in the ice?) The show finished with all the performers as circus artistes, clowns, jugglers (rings & fire torches) & other characters performing in the ring. For the finale Phileas T. Barnum walks across a tightrope above the stage.

All in all it was a pleasure to watch. The circus was a little too heavy on the aerial side for my liking & as such I actually enjoyed the first half more than the second. Every single person performed with a great deal of style. If you have never been to an ice show before you really must try & catch the Russian Ice Stars at the next available opportunity.