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One of the most popular original musicals in the past few years is The Greatest Showman, a foot-stomping and star-studded story loosely based on the life of P.T. Barnum. Walking out of the movie, many of wouldn’t have particularly expected the performance Broadway actress Keala Settle’s “This Is Me” song would outshine the likes of Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Zendaya, but that’s the power of The Greatest Showman.
The song went on to be nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars in 2018 and certainly helped boost Keala Settle's profile. However, the talent admits this is a bit of a double-edged sword. In her words:
It's interesting, that part was a great opportunity, and I'm forever grateful. But there is a certain sense of dread every time I get asked to sing it. People now expect me to sing it every time I perform. By the time I get to a venue and I'm about to go on stage, I'm incredibly excited. I love performing it live, because every audience is different, and they come because they feel like they are part of the song and its spirit.
It’s not easy being remembered for one thing, especially since Keala Settle has graced the Broadway stage for Les Miserables, Waitress and Hands on the Hardbody as well, the latter earning her a Tony nomination. Settle also had a role in Fox’s live version of Rent last year, which starred starring Vanessa Hudgens, Jordan Fisher and Kiersey Clemons. As the actress told the Bay Area Reporter, once she is in the moment singing “This Is Me,” every piece of dread fades away.
Keala Settle joined Hugh Jackman on his recent tour following the success of The Greatest Showman. She remembered one particularly memorable experience as follows:
One of the last cities we did on Hugh's tour was Mexico City. I was floored when I went on. The crowd was truly roaring. It sounded like an air raid. Then as I'm singing the song, I'm hearing the audience sing along, every word, in English. Moments like that make you realize what an opportunity I have. How that song can help me make an impact.
Keala Settle almost didn’t audition for the bearded lady known as Lettie Lutz in The Greatest Showman because a fellow Broadway actress had already recorded the demo and she didn’t think she could do better. One bottle of Jameson bribe later, she agreed to try the song and what came from it is this scene from The Greatest Showman:
One week before her big Oscar performance of the track, Keala Settle suffered a stroke that is a result of her having Moyamoya disease, a rare cerebrovascular condition for which she has since undergone 10-hour brain surgery. Knowing that, it's pretty incredibly she stuck it out for the major performance of “This Is Me.” The song itself was written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who have been part of the music for La La Land, the live-action Aladdin and Dear Evan Hansen, which has just assembled an amazing cast for its movie adaptation.
The Greatest Showman is currently available to stream on Disney+. You can sign up for a subscription to the Disney+ here and stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more movie news.