I have a new obsession; the film musical ‘The Greatest Showman’.
I took my children to see it last month and we all adored it. Last night we took my husband and he loved it too; we had said beforehand that he was at risk of being excluded from the family if he didn’t but luckily it all turned out ok.
The soundtrack has been in my car and head for the last month and reminded me once again of the power of music, drama and the arts to inspire, teach and enlighten.
In a month where the arts are fighting to survive in schools and society, the need for us to shout about this power is never greater:
I know that the historical accuracy of the story is highly blurred by dramatic licence. I am sure that the actual Mr P.T. Barnum was not quite the poster-boy for inclusion and the flag-bearer for vulnerable minorities that the story makes him out to be (just google him). But in this story, he is in an incredibly well-drawn character; passionate; principled; strong; weak; flawed; wrong and right.
Every song in the film is a hit and I have been thinking about how I could use each one as a teaching tool; either with staff as part of CPD, or pupils, in PSE or an assembly, or both.
Maybe one a month throughout next year?
The Greatest Show
Message: Life is here for the taking. Don’t put it off, seize it.
It’s everything you ever want
It’s everything you ever need
And it’s here right in front of you
This is where you wanna be.
A Million Dreams
Message: Even when life is tough, imagination and dreams can help us find solutions and set us free. Barnum as a child is abused, neglected and orphaned but he has big dreams and forms alternative secure attachments that help him though. There is hope for children who suffer early trauma.
They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy
They can say, they can say I’ve lost my mind
I don’t care, I don’t care, so call me crazy
We can live in a world that we design.
Message: We can beat sadness, low mood and negativity by connecting with others and finding the light and colour in life. There can be sunshine after rain.
‘Cause you’re just a dead man walking
Think of that your only option
But you can flip the switch and brighten up your darkest day
Sun is up and the color’s blinding
Take the world and redefine it
Leave behind your narrow mind
You’ll never be the same.
The Other Side
Message: Be prepared to take risks in order to achieve your potential and find fulfillment. Don’t stay with what is safe and known. (This is a good one for me just now as I try to persuade some staff and pupils to take risks.)
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
So if you do like I do
So if you do like me
Forget the cage, ’cause we know how to make the key
Oh, damn! Suddenly we’re free to fly.
Message: No matter how much we have, it can feel as if it is never enough. In the film, we see that this is true at times for both Jenny Lind and Barnum. It has certainly been a theme in my life. Interestingly, we discover that Jenny was born out of wedlock and has clearly spent her life looking for something to replace a missing bond; in the film, she seems unable to find a way of healing her internal hurt child and to find a love that might help heal that.
All the shine of a thousand spotlights
All the stars we steal from the night sky
Will never be enough
Never be enough
Towers of gold are still too little
These hands could hold the world but it’ll
Never be enough.
This is Me
Message: We are all beautiful, unique, worthy of love and respect. There is no such thing as normal. There is no need to be ashamed of who we are. Bullies, stop.
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me.
Rewrite The Stars
Message: The love that dare not speak its name must be named and celebrated. Race issues back then, LGBTQ issues now; we need to keep changing the world….. and it is not impossible.
How do we rewrite the stars?
Say you were made to be mine?
Nothing can keep us apart
Cause you are the one I was meant to find
It’s up to you
And it’s up to me
No one can say what we get to be
Why don’t we rewrite the stars?
Changing the world to be ours.
Message: Life is never straightforward but it is the most wonderful adventure; to make the most of it we need to acknowledge that it has ups and downs, that we need to take risks but that we also need a stable hand to hold.
Hand in my hand
And you promised to never let go
We’re walking the tightrope
High in the sky
We can see the whole world down below
We’re walking the tightrope
Never sure, will you catch me if I should fall?
Well, it’s all an adventure
That comes with a breathtaking view
From Now On
Message: We can learn from our past mistakes, see what is important and choose to live by our true values and with love. Right now.
I saw the sun begin to dim
And felt that winter wind
A man learns who is there for him
When the glitter fades and the walls won’t hold
Cause from then, rubble
Can only be what’s true
If all was lost
There’s more I gained
Cause it led me back
So there it is.
In writing this, I have listened again to all the songs again and I have found lyrics and subtleties that could make me start all over again. I am inspired, moved and amazed all over again.
I know that not everyone likes a musical. That some will find it cheesy. But if not, why not embrace this incredible opportunity to help you develop a culture that celebrates love, life, creativity, diversity, vulnerability and the immeasurable power of the arts?