Open Forum

1.  Barnum

Posted 07-06-2014 13:56
I am doing Barnum this year and hope to maybe have it adjudicated. There are major hurdles with the circus acts. Has anyone ever done this and does anyone have a lead on circus equipment rental. Our stage DOES NOT have a fly system so we have a challenge. Any helpful hints? I have the voices which is the major reason I'm doing this. My gorgeous opera singer for Jenny Lind, and the only guy with the pipes and personality to do Barnum are both graduating this coming year. It's now or never.

Patricia Reeves
Shreveport LA

2.  RE: Barnum

Posted 07-07-2014 11:39
I did Barnum in 2012. It was a wonderful show to produce. The cast and audience loved it. I loved it too. One of my all time favorite shows.  I do not have a fly system. I did not fly anyone. I  didn't do any realized/legitimate circus acts. I created a clown group that did many things that was required by the original production. I used 6 circus cubes that spelled BARNUM and used it as the base of the tight rope and used rope for number of different scenes (tight rope, clothes line) and had the clowns as part of the scenery. I also used several exercise balls of various sizes as well as scooters, unicycles, hula hoops, etc.  All of it gave the circus feeling. No need to do anything elaborate or too crazy. I think the show actually works best if simplified. I used the whole circus as a metaphor. One set and some creative placement of a few items and everyone was ready to join the circus.  Best of luck with your production.

John Rutherford
Rochester Hills MI

3.  RE: Barnum

Posted 07-07-2014 14:31

East Side Players opens BARNUM in a few weeks. You can contact them at
Sonja Hansen
Producer, Director and Choreographer
Choreography by Sonja
Loveland OH

4.  RE: Barnum

Posted 07-08-2014 14:33
I did Barnum in 2010.  The most important thing is a great Barnum. Be creative and fun with your numbers.  We did the circus and the spec.  We built circus wagons that housed animals (kids dressed in animal costumes) We used representations from the circus acts for costumes.  I had 1x4' cubes that created different set elements from the ring itself to the brick wall. I had clowns, dancing bears, ring master on stage for all show.  Used magic acts like knife throwing and sawing a woman in half.  (Find a magician and get plans to build these units, sell them afterward as magic tricks) We set up a full midway outside the theatre with games and prizes and food and the freak show.  We made it an event.  Think dog and pony circus for your acts.  Small children dressed as poodles makes a great dog act.  Tigers jumping through hoops.  We had large panels to create the stage in a tent like atmosphere.  The orchestra was on stage visible through out.  We built a canon and had one actor get in the canon on stage and another actor dressed identically in the balcony.  Face the canon upward expel smoke focus a spot light through the air and have the balcony kid jump up and ta-da right on cue. There are many books on the early American circus and PT Barnum those are great jumping off points for ideas.  Above all have fun.
Kelly Thomas
Mesquite TX

5.  RE: Barnum

Posted 07-09-2014 11:20
Hi, Patricia

You might try the American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO). They are an arts education association and might provide leads on circus resources and equipment. 

Brian Benz
Membership Manager
Educational Theatre Association
Covington KY