IN this age of President Donald Trump, fire and fury and fake news, meet Phineas Taylor Barnum, the 19th century American politician, showman and businessman. Remind you of anyone?

Why, PT Barnum even talks of humbug versus the truth, fact versus flim-flam, in Cy Coleman, Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble's Broadway musical account of the colourful life and times of "America's greatest showman", whose biography sold second only to the Bible in his lifetime.

Barnum, the polymath, was an author, publisher and philanthropist too, but here, as the man who called himself "a showman by profession" would no doubt have approved, the focus falls on that showmanship, his humbug hoaxes and his love of the circus ring.

"Barnum’s the name, P T Barnum, and I want to tell you that tonight, on this stage, you are going to see – bar none – every sight, wonder and miracle that name stands for,” says Finn East's wide-eyed, arms-outstretched, twinkling Barnum, who makes for a far more appealing, quick-witted spinner of humbug than our obfuscating "let-me-make-this-clear" 21st century politicians.

East impressed in the summer when taking over the principal role of student Joe Vegas in Stage Experience's Fame: The Musical at short notice at the Grand Opera House, and he is better still leading the York Light Youth cast as the larger-than-life Barnum. Light on his feet not only in his high-wire walk, like James Corden's Frances Henshall in One Man, Two Guvnors, his Barnum moves nimbly and thinks even more quickly and he has natural leadership qualities on the stage.

Barnum calls his circus the greatest show on Earth, and if this musical cannot live up to such claims with its Act II musical numbers not matching the knock-out highs of Act 1, nevertheless Hilary Dyson's young charges and her stage crew give it everything.

David Pumfrey's red and white circus tent design and mezzanine level work well, with room aplenty for Hayley Patrick-Copeland's ensemble choreography, full of circus skills too, and it is good to see John Atkin's band in full view at the back rather than stuck in a pit. This enhances the sense of everyone taking up the call to Come Follow The Band.

The period costumes, from the York Light Opera Company's wardrobe stock, are a delight throughout, especially the myriad black and white outfits for Act Two's Black And White setpiece.

East is far from alone in delivering the goods. Amelia Cook is terrific as Chairy Barnum; their duet of The Colors Of My Life being a particular joy. Elle Melvin's Swedish songbird Jenny Lind hits the heights in the operatic Love Makes Such Fools Of Us All, while Lucy Scruton's Joice Heth, Jack Porter's Ringmaster, Nathan Christy's Julius Goldschmidt and Edward Atkin's James A Bailey all shine in the spotlight, but above all there is a star rising in Finn East.

Barnum, York Light Youth, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, resuming tomorrow until Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm, Saturday. Box office: 01904 501935 or at