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Phineas Taylor Barnum first opens a wax museum but soon shifts focus to the unique and peculiar; introducing extraordinary, neverseen- before acts to the circus stage. Some call this collection of oddities a freak show. However, when he gambles everything on the opera singer Jenny Lind’s ability to appeal to a high-brow audience, he loses sight of the most important aspect of his life: his family.
The clip focuses on Phineas premiering his new show to great acclaim. At the reception Barnum takes the opportunity to gloat about his success to his father-in-law and begins to forget why he originally wanted to set up the stage show.
At this point his circus cast tries to enter the reception only to be stopped by Barnum, who has suddenly become ashamed of the people he has been spending time with. Dejected by this betrayal, they decide to confront their harassers and sing the now-famous song ‘This is me’.
After watching the clip, discuss:
- What emotions do you think the circus cast members feel during the song?
- Why does Phineas suddenly turn his back on his cast? Are his actions understandable?
- Were there any lyrics that stood out as particularly meaningful or important?
- Are there people in our society who need a ‘This is me’ moment of recognition? Who are they and why do you think society often overlooks them? Once you’ve had your first set of discussions, read together Matthew 9:35-38 (or if you wish to add context, read from the beginning of chapter 9).
Once you have done that, break off into small groups to discuss the following questions:
- Based upon this passage, can you come up with five things Christians should be doing?
- Is this a realistic expectation of how Christians should behave?
- How would our local area change if some of these actions were put into practice?
- What do you think verse 37 means?
The Greatest Showman is very popular, and the suggestion of watching the whole film will, I imagine, go down very well. There is also a moving ‘This is me’ performance on YouTube from the cast’s rehearsals. Introduced by the cast, it explains how this was the key moment in getting the film made. It’s well worth a watch.