The Greatest Showman Sing-a-long, Bierkeller, Birmingham - review

With Let It Go and the rest of the Frozen songs now a distant memory - The Greatest Showman has become the new soundtrack to my life in recent times.

The Greatest Showman
The Greatest Showman

If it's not the DVD on loop in the living room it's A Million Dreams or This is Me blaring out as soon as I switch the engine on in the car.

So when I saw an advert for The Greatest Showman Live at the Bierkeller in Birmingham I must admit it sent a bit of a shudder down my spine. But I knew my girls - aged four and eight - would never forgive me if I didn't take them along to see this family favourite brought to life so off we went.

It felt a little strange rocking up at a Broad Street bar at 11am on a Tuesday morning with the kids but there were other families already queuing too which was a relief.

After a short wait we were ushered inside and shown to our seats at the long tables usually filled with beer-swilling crowds watching oompah bands.

With the lights dimmed a big screen hung from the wall and the bar open - this felt like a night out. But rest assured there was no yard of ale for me - just a water and apple juices for the girls while we waited for the film we've seen a thousands times before - to start.

The film starts up with the words to the songs subtitled for everyone to sing-along to as a real-life PT Barnum - dressed in top hat and tails - emerged with a microphone flanked by jugglers to announce the beginning of the fun.

As I was handed a Confetti Cannon to fire at any opportune moment and another dad was told to run down the aisle and shout 'he's alive' when Hugh Jackman's character emerges from a fire - it quickly became evident this was most definitely an..er.. interactive experience.

Now while for Americans this stuff comes like second nature us Brits are a little more inhibited and it took a little while for some people - including me - to get past their self-consciousness. But to my shock by the time the film came to an end we were all standing on the benches whooping, clapping and firing said Confetti Cannons across the room - this is the greatest show!

The cast - including The Bearded Lady, Jenny Lind, Phillip Carlyle, Anne Wheeler along with two acrobatic jugglers - are to thank for getting the room into the spirit.

I thought they struck an excellent balance of entertaining and interacting with the audience - while not being overly in your face. The children were asked to stand up on the benches if they wanted to while the characters came round with a microphone for them to have a go at singing along - which many of them did - some dressed in fancy dress for the occasion.

The girls really loved it with both singing and dancing along to all of the well-known songs. They enjoyed seeing the tap dancing sequence on the table - marvelled at the Bearded Lady's voice, laughed at the circus duo and were chuffed to get a photo with the cast at the end for good measure.

Meanwhile everyone - children included also received a toast drink served during Jenny Lind's opening night performance as well as a shot drink (orange juice for the children) during PT Barnum and Phillip Carlyle’s famous bar scene.

It was a great morning's entertainment with the sold out show running again at 3pm before a version just for the grown-ups last night - which I imagine would be a lot of fun too.

The Bierkeller was a good venue for it and staff were serving food and drink throughout the only improvement I could suggest would be a slightly bigger screen at the front of the room next time. But we would definitely go back and do it all again.

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