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Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman

‘The Greatest Showman’ Is a Dazzling Spectacle with Heart

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It’s not the most obvious topic for a feel-good family musical:  the career of someone long identified as America’s premium hucksters, the so-called Prince of Humbugs, P.T. Barnum.

Indeed, the circus which bore his name, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, just had to shut its doors after animal rights protesters forced it to stop using elephants. Which, it turns out, were what the public had been paying to see. Ticket sales slumped and the circus won’t be coming to town any more.

But the circus which Barnum invented was a great American institution for 150 years. And The Greatest Showman works on many levels.

Australian actor Hugh Jackman lights up the screen and wins our sympathy as the quintessentially American self-made man, P.T. Barnum. We see him as an orphan boy stealing bread in the streets of 19th century New York City. But young Phineas dreams big. And not just for himself. Almost the whole story happens once Barnum is a husband and father.

His fibs and minor frauds and outrageous inventions are all in service of his beloved wife (played by the radiant, winsome Michelle Williams) and their adorable daughters.

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‘Wonder’- A Beautiful, Surprising Film for the Whole Family

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Wonder might make you cry, but it isn’t weepy. It deals with bitterly painful subjects: bullying, birth defects and the cruelty of children. Its hero is a young boy with a gruesome facial deformity. The movie doesn’t sugar coat the suffering little August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) endures. Nor does it wallow in it, like some saccharine “After School Special.” Instead, it carves out his story and that of his family in three dimensions. The result is a real work of art. It will stay with you long after you leave the theater.

Yes, there is plenty of pain. But there is also courage. And love, abundant love. I won’t give away the ending, but … what tends to conquer all?

Born ‘Defective’
Young Augie was born with a life-threatening birth defect that required repeated surgeries to join up the unlinked pieces of his poor little visage.

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Red Nose Day

NBC’s Red Nose Day special targets child poverty

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Actress Julia Roberts will join adventurer Bear Grylls on NBC May 25 as part of Red Nose Day, an annual fundraiser that has the goal of ending child poverty – one “nose” at a time.

Christian ministries such as Covenant House and Charity: Water are among the organizations that will receive money from the fundraiser, which has brought in more than $1 billion in the past 25 years.

NBC is dedicating its lineup May 25 to the event, beginning with Celebrity Ninja Warrior for Red Nose Day at 8 p.m. ET/PT, followed by Roberts and Grylls in Running Wild With Bear Grylls at 9 p.m. The night will conclude at 10 p.m. with The Red Nose Day Special, in which the sequel of Love Actually will premiere.

Feeding America, Save the Children, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America also will benefit.

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Sight & Sound

Popular ‘Sight & Sound’ Bible musical coming to big screen (interview)

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Tourists who have visited Branson, Mo., or Lancaster, Pa., know all about Sight & Sound Theatres and the massive Broadway-like shows that bring the Bible to life.

But for the rest of the country, trips to those two scenic locations may not be practical.

Sight & Sound will give lovers of musicals the next-best thing on Tuesday (May 2) when Jonah – recorded in front of a live audience – will show in more than 700 movie theaters nationwide in a one-night-only event. It is Sight & Sound’s theatrical debut and will give those outside of the Missouri and Pennsylvania regions a front-row view of the spectacular costumes, colossal sets, and original music that has made the shows popular.

More than 1 million people each year view Sight & Sound productions in person.

“What we wanted to do for those who are going to be watching it on the big screen is to be able to get a vantage point and a perspective of the show that you wouldn’t have if you were sitting here live,” Dean Sell, brand manager for Sight & Sound, told SCENES. “When you are sitting here [at the Sight and Sound theater], you have a fixed seat and that’s your viewing position for the whole show.

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Genius

Genius reveals a deeply flawed Albert Einstein

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Albert is a gifted college student with a bright future, but there’s one big problem. He may get kicked out of school first.

He gets bored easily in class. He’s constantly distracted. And when he does pay attention, he’s often challenging the professors – to their embarrassment and frustration.

“How am I supposed to find answers if I don’t ask?” he asks one of them during a heated post-class exchange.

Still, there are plenty of professors who see his potential. One of them says Albert “may be the brightest student I’ve taught.”

As the world soon will discover, Albert also is one of the brightest minds we’ve ever seen.

National Geographic’s Genius premieres tonight (April 25), following the private life of Albert Einstein, from his days as a student who skipped class to his time as a professor whose lectures captivated large audiences.

It is the network’s first scripted series and is based on Walter Isaacson’s book, “Einstein: His Life and Universe.”

I screened the first two episodes in the 10-part series, and it’s safe to say I’m wanting to watch more of it.

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