There is no profanity, no skimpy outfits and no sap. There IS… lots of magic, mermaids, witches, giants, tree people and even elephants!
There are exquisite eye-popping sets that enhance, not distract from the action and a stellar cast lead by the charming, lovable, and oh-so-incredible Norbert Leo Butz. (Best performance by a leading man since last years Rob McLure in “Chaplin.) I think Butz is a shoe-in for the Tony this year. Place your bets now. You’ll thank me on June 9th.
Now, I see a lot of theater.
I have heard better scores, I have seen grander sets, there has been more inventive choreography, but this play comes together beautifully with some truly exceptional “WOW” moments yours truly will be talking about for a long time.
Let me say that in general I am not in favor of this latest reverse trend of turning popular movies into Broadway plays. There have been so many lately.
Spamalot, The Color Purple, Legally Blonde, Billy Elliot, The Producers, The Wedding Singer, Young Frankenstein, Once, Bonnie and Clyde, Ghost, Newsies, (the whole panoply of Disney extravaganzas), and yet to come, the mismanaged “Rebecca” and the questionable “Rocky.”
“The Book of Mormon” may be one of the few truly original ideas to hit the Great White way in the last few years.
But “Big Fish” accomplished what it set out to do – create a magical and poignant family friendly musical that truly has something for everyone.
The stunning and vibrant Kate Baldwin goes toe to toe with Butz as his wife/love interest, gliding effortlessly through the gamut between a teenager and a mother of a 30-year-old son. Her ballad, “Time Stops,” may very well be for this generation of auditioning hopefuls what “As long As He Needs Me” from “Oliver” was to my generation, or what “My Bill” from “Showboat” was to the generation before.
Ushers should have been on hand with tissues as much sniffling and audible weeping was heard more than once.
I went to the movie with my daughter and my best friend when it played in theaters. They both were reduced to sobbing spectacles. I remained a dry-eyed observer and attributed my lack of connection to the fact that I have a black soul. It’s hard for me to detach and completely immerse myself in a story because the analytical side of me squelches such impulses. (Thanks Dad!)
I teared up often during the recent production of “Brief Encounter” but before that it was a 1997 production of “Peter Pan” at the National theater in London, with Ian Mc’Kellen as Captain Hook. My daughter was 7 and we were in the front row. I sobbed at the set changes. I was a complete basket case. So, you see, I am not without heart.
Given financial resources, I would take everyone I know to see “Big Fish.” I would even take my mother (and most of the time I don’t even like her very much.)
“Big Fish” has an abundance of joy.
There is so little purity in our collective lives (well, mine for sure). We are bombarded with technology and have less and less time for actual human connections. Big Fish is an opportunity to feel the beauty and honesty that only comes from a child’s wishes.
An escape to this realm is worth its weight in gold (or pixie dust). As Mariel Hemmingway says to Woody Allen in “Manhattan” “Sometimes you have to have a little faith.”