The Greatest Show

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:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42862996

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-43319935

 

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?

August:

The Greatest Show

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyVYXRD1Ans

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.

 

September:

A Million Dreams

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSQk-4fddDI

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.

 

October:

Come Alive

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BURBlSYPmBU

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.

 

November:

The Other Side

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk008ADh4iY

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.

 

December:

Never Enough

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQWZK5U233s

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.

 

January:

This is Me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjxugyZCfuw

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.

 

 

February:

Rewrite The Stars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdjR2lvIfJ4

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.

 

March:

Tightrope

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=He5NctQPXK8

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

 

April:

From Now On

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iW2FUY3N-n0

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

Blow cold

A man learns who is there for him

When the glitter fades and the walls won’t hold

Cause from then, rubble

What remains

Can only be what’s true

If all was lost

There’s more I gained

Cause it led me back

To you.

 

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?

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