Brian Conley to star in Barnum at Playhouse

Brian Conley will play the ringmaster when Barnum hits the Playhouse. Picture: contributed
Brian Conley will play the ringmaster when Barnum hits the Playhouse. Picture: contributed
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“ROLL up, roll up, for the greatest show on Earth.”

That’s the cry set to go out at the Playhouse this October, when Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular circus musical Barnum, rolls into town with I’m A Celebrity star Brian Conley as the famous ringmaster.

Announcing the production exclusively to the Evening News, Playhouse general manager Jo Beale said: “We are delighted that this production of Barnum will make its Scottish premiere at the Playhouse.

“This Cameron Mackintosh and Michael Harrison smash-hit is sure to be a favourite with our audience. Who doesn’t love the fun of the circus?”

Barnum tells the story of 19th century American showman Phineas Taylor (PT) Barnum, charting the legendary showman’s life as he lit up the world with the colour, warmth and excitement of his imagination, before teaming up with JA Bailey to create Barnum and Bailey’s Circus – the Greatest Show on Earth.

Conley, who last appeared in the Capital as Fagin in Oliver!, said: “I am so thrilled to be playing the title role in this amazing production of Barnum. I couldn’t say no when I saw Edinburgh on the tour schedule and can’t wait to return to the Playhouse where I had such a ball in Oliver! Edinburgh is such a great city.”

Producer Michael Harrison, who trained in the Capital and is writer/producer of the King’s annual pantomime is also excited to be returning to the city.

“Bringing a show to Edinburgh is always special,” he said. “I lived just off Leith Walk for two years and was an usher at the Playhouse when Phantom of the Opera was 

“I only took the job so that I could watch Phantom, which was produced by Cameron, every night.

“What makes Barnum doubly weird is that I am now co-producing with Cameron. There’s a lot of be careful what you wish for there; I dreamed of that and suddenly we’re doing it.

“So it’s terrific. As a producer Edinburgh is always top of your list when you tour a musical. It’s going to be great.”

The production, which co-stars West End star Linzi Hateley, will run at the Playhouse from October 27 to November 1. Tickets go on sale online and from the Playhouse box office next Wednesday. Barnum originally premiered on Broadway in 1980, starring Glenn Close and Carry On star Jim Dale, winning three Tony Awards.

It has toured to the Playhouse twice before, with Michael Crawford and Paul Nicholas in the lead role.

The current touring production featured in the Channel 4 series The Sound of The Musical, and debuted in July last year.