“Colossal we come, these renegades in the ring…”
– “The Greatest Show”
You may have heard of a little movie that came out about a year ago called The Greatest Showman. Starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Zendaya, and Keala Settle, the film tells the story of the beginnings of P.T. Barnum’s circus. It is, quite honestly, a tour de force of emotion. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but this movie has kinda sorta changed my life. This story and the music have become ingrained in my heart. So yes, this movie has taught me quite a bit. Now, in honor of the recent release of The Greatest Showman Reimagined soundtrack, I felt it was only right to share a few of those all-important lessons. Let’s get in to that, shall we?
- Sometimes it’s better to take the risk.
“Some people long for a life that is simple and planned / Tied with a ribbon / Some people won’t sail the sea ‘cause they’re safer on land”
Charity Barnum was born in a wealthy, influential family. Yet, she chose to marry a man that, as her father often liked to point out, came from nothing. But she believed in him and his dreams. He was willing to risk everything on a business venture that could be an utter failure, and she was right there next to him. As she said, she was fine with taking a risk, as long as they did it together. Phillip Carlyle took a risk when he left his privileged life behind to join the circus (more on him later). These risks are what led to great success, after a few bumps in the road of course.
“Don’t you wanna get away / To a whole new part you’re gonna play? / ‘Cause I got what you need, so come with me and take the ride / To the other side”
– “The Other Side”
- Society’s opinion of what is beautiful or acceptable does not define you.
“Trust me, they don’t know it yet, but they’re going to love you.”
This message is perhaps the driving force behind the entire movie. Barnum was looking for “oddities” and “curiosities” in the form of people for his museum-turned-circus. It led him to find a young man with dwarfism, a bearded lady, and a man with an exorbitant amount of hair, to name just a few. As Lettie, the bearded lady, points out, “our own mothers were ashamed of us.” By bringing a group of outcasts together, Barnum had created a safe place for them – a home. But, as he becomes jaded by the shine of show business, even he forgets this. But don’t worry – Lettie is ready to step in once again…
“I know that I deserve your love / No, there’s nothing I’m not worthy of”
– “This is Me”
Whatever the world says about you, whether they hate you or love you, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is what those you love, those closest to you think. What matters is what you think – nothing and no one else.
“You don’t need everyone to love you….Just a few good people.”
– Charity Barnum
- Family is the most important thing in life.
“If all was lost, there’s more I’ve gained / ‘Cause it led me back to you”
– “From Now On”
Whether it’s the one you’re given or the one you choose, family is what matters most. This sentiment steers Barnum off course for a while, as he attempts to amass more money and material things for his own family, but he receives a wake-up call from his other family: his circus. All the friends he has made on his journey are insistent that he has given them what they never could have found somewhere else – friends, family, love, happiness, and so much more. Although he makes mistakes, they ultimately lead Barnum back to his family, who he promises to never leave again.
“Come one / Come all / Come in / Come on”
– “Come Alive”
- Never sacrifice your happiness.
“You would finally live a little, finally laugh a little / Just let me give you the freedom to dream / And it’ll wake you up and cure your aching / Take your walls and start ’em breaking / Now that’s a deal that seems worth taking”
– “The Other Side”
Although this is certainly evident in Barnum’s story, perhaps it is told even better through Phillip Carlyle’s. Phillip is a theater producer that Barnum hires to help with publicity and growth, but he becomes so much more. Having never fit in with his rich and strict family, Phillip is unknowingly just as lost as the circus performers are. It is in them that he finds his true home, and love, that he defends fiercely despite it being considered inappropriate for the time period.
“You’re here in my heart / So who can stop me if I decide that you’re my destiny?”
– “Rewrite the Stars
- Let your head be so full of dreams that there isn’t room for anything else.
“A million dreams is all it’s gonna take / A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.”
– “A Million Dreams”
P.T. Barnum was the son of a poor tailor who died when he was still young. He sold old newspapers to make money for food, and took a job with a railway company when that craze took hold. As an adult, he struggled to hold a job and provide for his family. But there was never one moment when he lost the whimsy and magic he believed in as a child. It’s how he found his calling, and how he helped so many who felt they had nothing to give the world find hope and love. Dreams are not distant, impossible ideas. They are real and powerful.
“All the shine of a thousand spotlights / All the stars we could steal from the night sky / Will never be enough”
– “Never Enough”