The musical about the life of 19th century American circus ringmaster PT Barnum, starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams and Zendaya, was accused of glossing over the less appealing aspects of its subject’s personality and was memorably dismissed as “a shrill blast of nothing” by Peter Travers of Rolling Stone.
But this didn’t stop cinema crowds falling captive to the glitzy charm and unabashed romantic sentimentality of Michael Gracey’s production, its pre-Christmas release in the midst of pantomime season masterfully timed to catch the spirit of the moment.
What do we know about the new production?
Well, honestly, not a lot at present. The project was first announced in May and is still at the development stage.
While the producers can’t fail to put together a lavish, visually spectacular theatrical show, to which the Barnum story is uniquely well suited, no cast information has yet been confirmed, nor is there any word yet on ticketing.
The Greatest Showman’s arrival on the New York stage – and perhaps later in the West End – will no doubt be a smash hit in whatever form it takes, thanks to the readymade audience drawn from the film’s cult following.
Much of the excitement surrounding the project originates from Jackman’s enthusiasm for a live re-staging of the film – rather than a sequel or spin-off movie – being well known.
“We were talking about a live version of the show even before [the film] came out,” he told Forbes earlier this year.
“There was a discussion at one point in the eight-year journey of this movie of maybe going live first... The musical really works live.”
Whether he would appear in the stage version himself has yet to be confirmed but he has form in the genre and members of his supporting cast have been widely tipped to return.
Actress Skylar Dunn, who played Young Charity on screen, has already volunteered.
How can I get my Greatest Showman fix in the meantime?
Fear not. The film itself is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and download and the official soundtrack continues to be a best-seller, lingering in the charts like a backstage phantom and allowing fans to relive their favourite moments.
The Prince Charles Cinema in London’s Leicester Square has also run sing-along screenings throughout the year and special showings are being regularly programmed in cinemas across the country to cope with demand.
There seems to be no stopping the Greatest Showman craze.
Even Donald Trump is a fan, preferring it to Steven Spielberg’s The Post for a screening at Camp David and branding the experience “fantastic”.