Norwalk High School students to present 'Barnum'

Cary Ashby • Feb 20, 2019 at 3:00 PM

Colin Bement plays one of several ringmasters in the upcoming Norwalk High School musical “Barnum.”

“The ringmaster … narrates the entire musical. He uses a lot of alliteration and basically, announces a lot of the circus acts that go on in the show,” said the son of Jerry and Stacie, who also portrays James Bailey.

The NHS drama department will perform “Barnum” from March 7 through 10.

Senior Micah Duncan has the lead role, P.T. Barnum. As a result, he has a lot of dialogue and lyrics to remember.

“The best way to memorize is to just keep doing it over and over until it sticks,” said the son of Rob and Karen, who usually does the memorization on his own.

What’s the trick in playing a good P.T. Barnum?

“You have to have lots of energy — all the time. You’ve got to be very convincing with everything you say; you’ve gotta believe what you’re saying. And you just gotta go full force into the character,” Duncan said. “I can usually put out a lot of energy, but it does require a lot more than normal.”

Senior Jalyn Moore plays Barnum’s wife, Charity. While she sees the husband as a driven and strict character, the actress said her role is a great example of tough love.

Moore considers her chemistry with Duncan pretty good.

“It’s a lot of fun. (There are) awkward moments, but it is fun,” said the daughter of Ken and Shelly. “We try to keep each other upbeat. ‘Let’s just stay in the moment, Micah.’ … It’s been a lot of fun.”

Junior Sam Neuberger, the son of Eric and Lori, plays a ringmaster.

“He’s a blue ringmaster; I’m green,” Neuberger said, referring to Bement’s role. “We go on stage together; we perform together.”

Being loud and enunciating are some of the skills needed to play a ringmaster.

“You are sort of narrating Barnum’s life,” Neuberger said.

The alliteration in the dialogue has been challenging for Bement.

“It is; I’ve had some trouble,” said the NHS junior, who has been “saying a lot of words that begin with the letter ‘C’ in a row, continuously” to help him. “Clearly hearing how the words are expressed is the most important part.”

The ringmasters have a lot of lines to deliver.

“I don’t say it’s that hard because I’m so used to saying them out loud, so it’s really easy to memorize,” Neuberger said.

Junior Ben Penrose also plays a ringmaster.

“I also have a big tuba solo,” said the son of Shane and Vicki, who plays first chair in the NHS marching band.

Penrose enjoys playing tuba in “Barnum.”

“Yeah, it’s nice because the big things (I do) in high school are just coming together,” he said. “(I try) to sell the music acts that we’re announcing because if I actually was the ringmaster in the circus, you’d want people to come and believe what I’m saying.”

Bement’s other character, James Bailey, appears near the end of the musical.

“He already owns a part of the circus. He’s trying to get Barnum to come with him and run the circus together, which leads him into a song called ‘Join the Circus,’” said the teenager, who has been challenged with hitting a particular note in the big number. “There’s a high note in there that I need to focus on hitting and saying all the words — diction.”

Moore said “Barnum” teaches many life lessons.

“I feel like a lot of people should come to this musical because it shows a lot more than just the bright colors of life and the excitement. There are also dark times in life; there are always going to be quiet colors next to those bright colors,” she said. “You should take life as it comes and just one brick at a time.” 

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