Barnum Festival Searches For The Greatest Voice On Earth

Paul Timpanelli
2014 Ringmaster Paul Timpanelli

Here’s your chance to let out your lungs. The Bridgeport region’s annual salute to iconic 19th century showman P.T. Barnum will feature a new statewide vocal competition Barnum’s Got Talent that includes four age groups and cash prizes with the finals taking place June 28 at the historic Bijou Theatre in the revitalized Downtown Bridgeport entertainment district on Fairfield Avenue. Fill out an application.

The Barnum Festival’s new statewide Connecticut singing competition pays tribute to Barnum’s ingenuity for developing and recruiting young talent whether Charles Stratton, better known as Tom Thumb, who toured Europe with Barnum or the celebrated Swedish soprano Jenny Lind whom Barnum promoted for record-shattering American concerts.

“The success of last year’s regional vocal competition inspired us to open up the contest to all of Connecticut in the spirit of P.T. Barnum’s blossoming of young talent,” says 2014 Ringmaster Paul Timpanelli, chief executive officer of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council.

“Last year’s vocal competition was an amazing tribute to the showman whose career was based on entertaining and creating opportunities for young people,” says Eileen Ferrigno, chair of the event. “We are in search of the greatest voice on earth no matter the level of singing experience.”

All ages are welcome starting from 11 years and up. The top selected vocalists from four age groups will each receive a $500 cash prize. Auditions will take place June 1, 2:30 p.m. at the Bijou Theatre, 275 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Barnum Festival to extend its talent search statewide,” says Barnum Festival Executive Director Elaine Ficarra. “Mr. Barnum was proud of his title ‘The children’s friend’ and in keeping with his remarkable moments on behalf of young people we’re proud to produce ‘Barnum’s Got Talent.'”

The two finalists from last year’s inaugural competition–one middle school student and one high school student–received $500 prizes and performed for Governor Dannel Malloy at the Ringmaster’s Ball at Seaside Park, one of Barnum’s waterfront gifts to the city.

Audition details:

June 1, 2:30 p.m., Bijou Theatre, 275 Fairfield Avenue. Four Divisions: (Middle School – High School – College – Adult) Ages: 11-13 / 14 -18 / 19-25 / 25 years and up based on current age as of June 1st audition.

Registration:  All contestants must pre-register online through the Barnum Festival website by Friday, May 30. Audition Fee $10.

Audition process–similar to “American Idol:”

All types of music allowed, 4 – rooms/spaces with two judges for each division (8 judges)

Participant sings approximately 32 bars – no music – a cappella only; judged on a 1 – 5 score.

Call Backs: Sunday June 8, 12:30 p.m., open to public free of charge.

Final Performance will take place at the Bijou Theatre on Saturday, June 28, 8 p.m.

There will be a $10 admission fee to see the show.

Prizes: A cash prize of $500 to each winner, one from each age division.

About The Barnum Festival

The Barnum Festival was established in 1949 to celebrate the life and times of P.T. Barnum and to commemorate the history of Bridgeport. The Barnum Festival is dedicated to providing exciting family entertainment which enriches the community, embraces diversity and celebrates life. Events produced through the passion of our volunteers brings to the community Champions on Parade, The Wing Ding Parade for Children, The “Got Talent” Vocal Competition, a spectacular fireworks display at Seaside Park and The Great Street Parade. For more information, please visit or call 203-367-8495.


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