Celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.
Orphaned, penniless, but ambitious and with a mind crammed with imagination and fresh ideas, the American entertainer, Phineas Taylor Barnum, will always be remembered as the man with the gift to blur the line between reality and fiction. Thirsty for innovation and hungry for success, the son of a tailor manages to open a wax museum; however, he soon shifts focus to the unique and the peculiar, introducing extraordinary, never-seen-before live acts on the circus stage. Now, some people call Barnums rich collection of oddities, an outright freak show; but, when Phineas, obsessed for cheers and respectability, gambles everything on the opera singer, Jenny Lind, to appeal to a high-brow audience, he will lose sight of the most crucial aspect of his life: his family. Will Barnum, the greatest showman, risk it all to be accepted?
In the late 19th century, P. T. Barnum and his troupe perform a show at the circus ("The Greatest Show"). In a flashback to Barnums childhood where he and his father Philo, a tailor, work for the Hallett family, he becomes infatuated with their daughter, Charity. Charity explains that her father is sending her to finishing school, and she does not know what her future will be, but Barnum explains that he expects great things from his future, and reassures her that they will not be separated. The two keep in touch through letters until they meet again in adulthood ("A Million Dreams"), eventually marrying and raising two daughters, Caroline and Helen, in New York City ("A Million Dreams" reprise). They live a humble life; though Charity is happy, Barnum craves more.