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.
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.