I am obsessed.

Just for kicks, several nights ago I watched “The Greatest Showman” on HBO. I had not deigned to see it in the theatre, but, hey. I love Hugh Jackman, especially when he’s singin’ and dancin’, and I didn’t feel like doing anything productive so I watched what I expected to be a light, fluffy movie about P. T. Barnum — a man who lived a life involving a pretty big dollop of controversy and who’s namesake circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus) was embroiled in the last couple of decades of its existence in litigation over its treatment and handling of animals, particularly Asian elephants, an endangered species.

Now I am obsessed with the movie and, especially, the film’s soundtrack. Visually, “Showman” is a feast. The music, the dancing/choreography have been running through my head incessantly. Y’all know me and my problem with ear worms. Because I can’t decide which of the songs I am obsessing over love the most, I downloaded the entire soundtrack to my iTunes. The Powers That Be (those nameless, faceless orgs that nominate artists and their work for awards) decided “This Is Me” was the stand out number. Indeed, it won the Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar. The PTB weren’t wrong, it’s fabulous — an anthem for everyone bearing scars, visible or invisible, and who want nothing more than to be accepted for who and what they are. That’s pretty much all of us, isn’t it?

Among the random facts of Barnum’s life fairly represented in the movie was his bringing Jenny Lind, “the Swedish Nightingale” to the United States for an extended tour. In truth, they both made a ton of money from that tour — Barnum took a huge risk and signed a contract with her that guaranteed payment (an unprecedented $1,000 per night for 150 shows). As a professional negotiator, I have nothing but admiration for her hard bargaining. What isn’t necessarily true about the real Barnum-Lind relationship, was any evidence of a romance, but — we’re talking about Hugh Jackman! In this gorgeous love song, Loren Allred lends her voice to Rebecca Ferguson’s Lind.

Currently, though, my favorite song — the one that I have been singing so much Fergus is annoyed with me — is “From Now On.” Jackman’s vocals soar. The choreography in this scene is off the charts.

Funny thing, I totally forgot that Zac Efron gained fame, originally, in “High School Musical,” so I’m all agog as I watched the movie thinking, “hey, this guy can sing and dance!” Duh, me. Michelle Williams, who plays Barnum’s wife Charity, was another happy surprise! Add Zendaya and Keala Settle as Lettie Lutz, the Bearded Lady, (and so many others) and the cast knocks off socks.

So, what’s true in the movie? Phineas Taylor Barnum did, in fact, buy and start his museum of curiosities, wax figures, taxidermied wild animals, and the like, as a young man (about 25). He also started exploiting more human “curiosities” early in his career — General Tom Thumb (who was actually a child in the beginning) and the Fiji Mermaid. However, he didn’t actually start the circus until he was 60 — after a long, often illustrious, career in politics, civic and philanthropic endeavors, as an author, and impresario of other entertainment such as flower shows, beauty pageants, poultry shows, founding theatres and producing dramatic performances, including Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Barnum was an abolitionist and argued as a Connecticut legislator for ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. He was a teetotaler, prohibitionist, and, as a state senator, sponsored a bill that prohibited the use of “any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception,” and also made it a crime to act as an “accessory” to the use of contraception, which remained in effect in Connecticut until being overturned in 1965 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut. At 65, when he was mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, he pushed for measures to improve the water supply and install gas lights on the streets. He was a significant player in getting Tufts University founded, donating a large sum of money to build a museum of natural history that eventually housed the university’s biology department. Fun facts: Jumbo the Elephant is the Tufts mascot and Tufts students are called “Jumbos.”

Surely Barnum’s values and political views represent the times before, during and after the Civil War. He built and lost fortunes throughout his life; his autobiography sold more than a million copies by the end of the nineteenth century, second only to the New Testament.

The words, “A sucker is born every minute,” have never been actually attributed to Barnum, but, true to his abolitionist heart, he is quoted in a speech to his legislature, “A human soul, ‘that God has created and Christ died for,’ is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab, or a Hottentot—it is still an immortal spirit.” He was rightfully famous for his hoaxes, but he justified them saying that they were advertisements to draw attention to the museum. “I don’t believe in duping the public, but I believe in first attracting and then pleasing them.”

This side of P. T. Barnum is amply portrayed in “The Greatest Showman.” If you haven’t seen it? Suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride.

One more video from early today:

Gratuitous pic of an ecstatic Fergus playing with his new hedgehog.