Spectacle filled the stage in the British production of Barnum, a musical biography of the brilliant, egomaniacal circus mogul P.T. Barnum (1810-91). Jugglers and acrobats dangled from ladders and ropes, confetti was scattered like Technicolor sawdust, a marching band roved the aisles. But the focus is slightly different in this home video version, taped by the BBC during the show’s run in London’s Victoria Palace. The intimacy of video brings out the touching love story between Barnum (Michael Crawford, of Phantom of the Opera fame) and his pragmatic, put-upon wife of 44 years, Charity (Eileen Battye). There’s still enough spectacle to do its subject proud, though. Crawford walks a tightrope and sings at the same time (the music is by Cy Coleman, with lyrics by Michael Stewart), and even 160-year-old Joice Heth (Sharon Benson), one of P.T.’s most famous — and fraudulent — attractions, manages a few high kicks. Too bad that Barnum, a man who persuaded a New York paper to run his obituary early so he could enjoy it, isn’t around to see this. A

  • Movie
  • 113 minutes