Young, energetic cast lends upbeat beat to 1980 musical

The Baltimore Sun

Circuses and kids, dancing and singing: That's what has led to the revival of Barnum, the Circus Musical on community stages.

It's opening today at the Talent Machine in Annapolis, where the talent is teenagers. The lead performer, Kory Kinney as P.T. Barnum, is 16.

With its circus theme, the 1980 Tony Award-winning musical Barnum seems to be an ideal vehicle for a cast ages 14 to 18, which danced, clowned and tumbled during a recent rehearsal.

For this show, cast members were also getting "lessons in fire eating and stilt walking from Talent Machine alumni," said Lea Capps, daughter of TM founder Bobbi Smith.

The show is loosely based on the life of Phineas Taylor "P.T." Barnum (1810-1891), co-founder of the renowned Barnum and Bailey traveling circus.

This is the second show of TM's summer.

Capps supervised last weekend's rehearsal at TM's StageWorkz facility in Millersville, while tending to show details of costuming and timing of dance moves.

Capps continues the tradition of her mother, who until her death in 2001 showcased young talent in three shows a year, two in the summer and one during the Christmas season.

The connections to Bobbi Smith can be found in the choice of this production's director and choreographer. Smith's sister, Vicki Smith, serves as Barnum choreographer.

Bobby Smith - no relation - a male associate who performed and worked with Bobbi at Toby's Dinner Theatre in the 1970s and has choreographed and directed past TM shows, has returned to direct Barnum.

TM newcomer Emily Petty serves as musical director in Barnum. She made her TM debut as music director of Hello Dolly! earlier this summer." Barnum romanticizes the circus man's marriage to Chairy, the first of his three wives.

Others from Barnum's life include his partner James A. Bailey, and famous soprano "Swedish Nightingale" Jenny Lind.

Barnum featured in his so-called "greatest show on earth" a 3-foot-tall Tom Thumb and the "oldest woman, " a 160-year-old blues-singer, Joyce Heth.

At the recent rehearsal, incoming Bowie High School sophomore Samantha Thornhill delivered a polished version of Heth's "Thank God I'm Old." complete with dancing.

Taylor Rector, who at age 12 portrayed Annie in TM's Annie Get Your Gun, returns at age 16 to play multiple roles in Barnum.

The ringmaster who narrates Barnum's life is David Grindrod, who is also cast as Barnum's partner, James A. Bailey.

Cy Coleman, who wrote the music for Sweet Charity as well as Frank Sinatra's standards, composed the toe-tapping music for Barnum. Michael Stewart wrote the lyrics.

Mark Bramble wrote the show.

The show runs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; and at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday Key Auditorium at St. John's College in Annapolis .

The final performance will be at 2 p.m. Aug. 12.

Tickets are available at $12 for audience members older than 7 and $10 for children younger 7, at or 410-956-0512.

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