The sold out screening for “The Greatest Showman” on April 10 was a full afternoon of entertainment and fun, beginning with teens from the Trenton Circus Squad performing and teaching acrobatics, juggling, and other big top tricks, followed by a pre-screening interview, and then the main event, the movie.
After filling the theatre, the audience enjoyed a lively conversation between two of today’s greatest showmen – United Palace friend, patron, and neighbor, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the incomparable actor behind the movie’s title character, Hugh Jackman. Mr. Jackman shared behind-the-scenes stories about the making of the movie and some of the most challenging performances, and also made sure to satisfy fans of his role as Marvel Comic’s Wolverine by striking the famous pose where the character bears his fearsome steel claws.
As Mr. Jackman left the stage to prepare for his matinee of “The Music Man,” Mr. Miranda delivered a final surprise for the audience, and dramatically whipped off a black sheet to reveal a keyboard standing stage left.
From behind the curtain appeared Alex Lacamoire, musical collaborator on the Broadway shows “In the Heights” and “Hamilton,” followed by actress and singer Mandy Gonzalez, who originated the character of Nina in “Heights” and currently stars as Angelica Schuyler in “Hamilton.”
Despite the circus performers, the high-wattage conversation between two stars of stage and screen, and the spectacle of watching “The Greatest Showman” on a 40-foot screen, for many, the most memorable moment was Ms. Gonzalez’s performance of the film’s song “Never Enough.” She so completely inhabited the song that when she reached the song’s crescendo, she was interrupted by the audience rising to its feet in applause, prompting Ms. Gonzalez to laughingly remind them she hadn’t finished the song yet.
It was an unforgettable afternoon of movie entertainment (and thanks to the Miranda Family Fund and AmEx it was free for the audience).
The next Movie at the United Palace is “Do the Right Thing” on May 15. Tickets will be available Monday, May 9. We’ll see what Mr. Miranda has in store to help make that movie come alive.