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Big Fish Preview Thread

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bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/4/13 at 02:19am
Big Fist starts previews tomorrow night at the Neil Simon! Who here is going to the first preview?
"Thereís nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
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tazber
Broadway Legend
joined:5/10/05
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/4/13 at 08:19am
Hopefully Whizzer!

Are you going bwayphreak234?
I'm looking forward to the early reactions.
....but the world goes 'round
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WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/4/13 at 08:48am
I will be there :)

I wonder why Big Fish and The Glass Menagerie decided to begin previews on Rosh Hashanah though. Doesn't seem like the best planning.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
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CarmenDeBris
Stand-by
joined:10/28/06
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/4/13 at 11:20am
I'll be there tomorrow. Stoked!
chuckydisc
Swing
joined:7/28/13
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/4/13 at 12:33pm
Any word on either Big Fish and/or The Glass Menagerie as far as rush / student rush / youth rush lines?
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bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/4/13 at 01:20pm
I wish, Tazber. Loved the Chicago production. Based on a photo on Instagram they have already changed the show curtain since Chicago! Hopefully that is a taste of some small tweaks in the right direction! I'm curious to hear about the Witch too! And I can't wait for a Whizzer review on the first big new show of the season
"Thereís nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
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henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/4/13 at 02:04pm
"I wonder why Big Fish and The Glass Menagerie decided to begin previews on Rosh Hashanah though. Doesn't seem like the best planning."

They are warming up with the gentiles.
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macnyc
Broadway Legend
joined:7/26/08
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/4/13 at 02:07pm
I believe The Machine (at the Park Avenue Armory) is also beginning previews tonight.
I'll be at that one.
Libby1209
Understudy
joined:7/22/09
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/4/13 at 06:47pm
Headed to see Big Fish this Saturday. The movie is great! Excited to see hwo this translates onto the stage...

macnyc...Would love to hear your thoughts on The Machine.

Updated On: 9/4/13 at 06:47 PM
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macnyc
Broadway Legend
joined:7/26/08
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/4/13 at 11:56pm
I enjoyed it a lot. I'll post a "review."
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GilmoreGirlO2
Broadway Star
joined:4/13/05
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/5/13 at 12:35pm
Looking forward to reading everyoneís reports!

Is anyone who also saw it in Chicago seeing it on Broadway in the coming days/weeks? I am interested to hear how itís been changed.
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thespian geek
Broadway Legend
joined:10/1/04
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aasjb4ever
Broadway Legend
joined:3/29/09
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/5/13 at 09:07pm
Last night, Krystal Brown wrote:
Getting ready for our 1st and only run through of Big Fish!!! This show is just so damn BIG!!!! Here we go! ?#?bigfishbroadway?
https://www.facebook.com/krystal.brown.334/posts/10151965595947317

Tweet from @dfact1 at 8:07 PM tonight:
Susan Stroman walks onstage and the audience explodes! Here we go! #BigFish
https://twitter.com/dfact1/status/375772254271209472

So did the show only have one run-through in New York, prompting Stroman to come out before the show tonight and explain that it was a first preview?
What a colossal piece of crap! It'll probably run for years.
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CarmenDeBris
Stand-by
joined:10/28/06
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/5/13 at 09:43pm
Stro said they're fresh out of tech. She warned they might stop and the intermission might be a touch long. No stops in Act I.
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WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/5/13 at 10:38pm
I'm so exited to hear about the show! I saw SOUL DOCTOR tonight and...I'm hoping BIG FISH is, at the very least, better than SD was.

Stole this picture from Twitter of the newly revised "curtain":
Current Avatar: Tony-winner Idina Menzel, delivering a sucker-punch of an 11:00 number, "Always Starting Over," in IF/THEN.
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somethingbypuccini 2
Stand-by
joined:5/12/13
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/5/13 at 11:45pm
Itís not perfect, and needs some tweaking, but I really liked it.

Act Two is much more effective than Act One. Act One relies far too heavily on itís [considerable] charms, and lacks much content.

I think the score is Lippaís best work. It has his usual flaws, like bordering on generic and being incredibly anachronistic, but there were a lot of beautiful numbers, particularly the Act One finale and the solos for the three leads in Act Two. The witch number needs to go.

Stromanís staging was strong, but I thought her choreography was lacking. While never incompetent and sometimes amusing, it often lacked the whimsey the story required.

The design was beautiful, minus the projections. They were used effectively a few times, but mostly I found them distracting. The rest of the set was simple, and beautifully evoked American nostalgia, I didnít need the projections.

Although I liked all three leads, it really is Norbertís show. I would be interested to see the show without him, because his performance and charm really carries the evening.

Kate Baldwin was delightful, but had the weakest character of the three. She had a lovely solo in the second act, but really didnít have much to do. She was in top form though.

Bobby, as usual, gave a really well thought out, complex photo. His singing was weak at points, but heís such a marvelous actor that it was fine. His second act number was a highlight of the show for me.

The supporting cast was uniformly not good.

It was long, and pacing, especially in Act One needs work. Which is a problem, because the show has been playing out of town for quite some time. But there really is a lot to work with, and I left the theatre quite moved.
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WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/5/13 at 11:47pm
Thanks for your thoughts, somethingbypuccini2! Do you happen to know about what time you got out?
Current Avatar: Tony-winner Idina Menzel, delivering a sucker-punch of an 11:00 number, "Always Starting Over," in IF/THEN.
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somethingbypuccini 2
Stand-by
joined:5/12/13
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/5/13 at 11:48pm
I was out of the theatre at exactly 11, but it took probably 15-20 minutes to get out. I was in the last row of the mezz, and the theatre was a madhouse. Not an empty seat in the house.
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Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/5/13 at 11:52pm
I am fresh from the first preview. It ran long tonight (didn't get out till a quarter till 11).

I'm mixed about it. There were some projection glitches and other very mild first preview tech hitches.

The first act is disjointed and lengthy (not helped by cues that need need need to be picked up). The first major production number is the Witch's song, and has a very awesome bit of staging/costuming that is one of the show's best. In fact, the first act is at its best when it's embracing the whimsical bigness of the tales. And then.. the father/son plot comes along and sucks the fun out with ballads. These two halves need to be reconciled more effectively.

The second act is stronger, but again would benefit from tightening and better focus. The last 15 minutes or so, however, are supremely effective and actually pretty moving.

The score is Lippa's most mature, I think. "Daffodils" - the act one closer- is the highlight for me. A lovely, lovely song.

Norbert Leo Butz is just incredible- he can really sell anything, sounds incredible, acts with his whole being. He's the most versatile, and arguably best, musical theatre actor of the time.

Kate Baldwin- gosh. I have a crush on her, I think. She always looks and sounds stunning and doesn't disappoint here, even if her character's whole motivation is "Love Edward Bloom." Lacks depth entirely- but Baldwin creates depth.

Bobby Steggert- whom I like very much- is very stiff in this. It's the character, partly- but even when he gets to let loose in a 2nd act western fantasy number and in the finale, he's still somehow stiff. He's also got the toughest part- Will Bloom is just kind of a chore to follow and kind of a dick.

The ensemble and bit players are all strong- Brad Oscar is great as the ringmaster Calloway.

The direction is typical Stroman- business and props and flash and excess. She seriously irks me by having the ensemble upstate the leads in not one, but TWO numbers- first in Steggert's 1st act ballad set in Central Park. She populates the scene with ensemble members jogging and sitting and doing park things- all behind Steggert, who is downstage singing a rather unexciting and unmemorable song. Of course we are going to watch people coming and going behind him.

Same with "Time Stops"- time does not ACTUALLY stop, but rather slows for much of the song. So Norbert and Baldwin are singing, while an ensemble of circus characters are doing tricks (a strongman is lifting, a magician is impressing a girl with a hat trick, etc) behind them in slow motion. I was thankful when time actually DID stop.

I've had a long day and my thoughts are scattered- I apologize.

I think the show has a lot of potential, and for all intents and purposes this was essentially a final dress rehearsal. I am mixed but optimistic, really. The first act needs so much tightening- they need a legitimate dramaturg to come in with a red pen.

But when the show works, it works well! It's a refreshingly sincere book- no wink-wink, no irony. Often amusing. The score is sung gorgeously. But it's a whimsical, excessive show tied to a realistic, small show, and it is to the detriment of both stories.
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AwesomeDanny
Broadway Legend
joined:7/30/09
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/6/13 at 12:00am
Sounds like there's been some big improvement since Chicago, but not as much as I had hoped. They really kept the western number? I was surprised that they hadn't cut it by the end of the run in Chicago--even the people I know who fell in love with the show agreed that this song needed to go.

How does the show open? My biggest issue with the structure was that it took about half an hour to cover what the film did in no more than ten minutes.

Can someone post a list of songs? I'm curious to see how it's changed.
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somethingbypuccini 2
Stand-by
joined:5/12/13
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/6/13 at 12:02am
God I forgot about the terrible Central Park number. Fine song, just terrible terrible execution.
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Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/6/13 at 12:15am
Song list:
ACT ONE
"Prologue" - Orchestra
"Be the Hero"- Edward, Ensemble
"I Know What You Want" - Witch, Edward, Ensemble
"Stranger"- Will
"My Adventure"- Sandra
"Ashton's Favorite Son"- Ensemble
"Out There on the Road"- Edward, Karl, Ensemble
"Sandra's Wish"- Sandra
"Little Lamb from Alabama:- Sandra, Alabama Lambs
"Time Stops"- Edward, Sandra
"Closer to Her"- Edward, Calloway, Ensemble
"Daffodils"- Edward, Sandra

ACT TWO
"Red, White, and True"- Edward, Sandra, Company
"Fight the Dragon"- Edward, Young Will
"Showdown"- Will, Edward, Company
"I Don't Need a Roof"- Sandra
"Start Over"- Edward, Karl, Calloway, Ensemble
"Time Stops (Reprise)"- Sandra
"What's Next"- Will, Edward, Company
"How it Ends"- Edward
"Be a Hero (Reprise)"- Will



For the record, I actually liked the western number ("Showdown"). It's a lively, whimsical song in an act that's short on them. HOWEVER- I do think the plot point of Edward's relationship with Jenny needs to be clarified. The song is completely undermined by the revelatory scene between Jenny and Will- which doesn't make sense, as "Showdown" is sung from Edward's prospective and all but says he has been having an affair. The scene reveals it's more complicated than that.
Updated On: 9/6/13 at 12:15 AM
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WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/6/13 at 12:32am
I just got home from tonight's performance and feel like I just got off a long ride on a yo-yo. The quality of the show swings from good/great to mediocre (or worse) so quickly and so often that it's hard to know what to make of it right away.

The show starts off on a very strong note. Norbert leads the entire ensemble in a very winning number called "Be the Hero." It is lively, catchy and a major rebound from anything in The Addams Family. The scene is set for Norbert to be a great storyteller who is bound to exaggerate a little, but always tell tales full of life and joy. Norbert's singing and especially his dancing were terrific, and I thought if the show can keep this up we will have a winner!

Norbert, for his part, does hold up his end of the bargain and turns in my favorite performance I've seen him give outside of Fifty Words. I think he will go down in history as one of our greatest musical theater performers.

Unfortunately the storytelling and score don't keep the standard upheld by the leading man, and the second number for the witch takes a big dip south. It starts out promising enough with a dazzling choreographic effect that is pure Stroman, but the song itself is weak. Ciara Renee's vocal is fine, but the melody sounds like any old pop song and the lyrics are forgettable. I felt like she was going to burst into the fortuneteller's part of "The Devil You Know" from Side Show any moment.

Then we get a couple of book scenes; I sometimes took a issue with the structure of the storytelling, but the dialogue is often refreshing and very natural. From a dialogue standpoint I think it's one of the stronger books of the past few seasons.

The problem here is we stuck with the modern day characters for a long while and what we (I) really want to see, and what is fun, are the stories. Bobby Steggert gets a fine but boring song in a park. Kate Baldwin gets a fine but boring song by the pool. (Kate's song doesn't even get a button, so no one knows to applaud at the end.)

Kate Baldwin sounds GLORIOUS the whole evening. She has a quite, beautiful number in act two called "I Don't Need a Roof" that was one of my favorite musical moments of the night. Her two duets with Norbert, "Time Stops" and "Daffodils," were other highlights. The role is kind of underwritten and could have been a real drag in less capable hands, but she does very well with it and elevates her material.

Bobby Steggert's character is more problematic in that he is a character in a musical who shouldn't sing. His father is a man who lives in fantasy and whimsy. In fact Norbert's character should probably never speak. A character like that could never bothered with something so plain and boring as the spoken word- his life is full music at every moment. Bobby's character is the exact opposite: analytical, realistic, pragmatic. He's not without emotion, but the emotion must be well thought out and appropriate. His character wouldn't sing a song in Central Park. That would be silly.

Things kick back into gear when Norbert's story begins to unfold.

I should disclose that I am a big fan of the movie and get pretty emotional when things come together at the end. I'm glad the musical isn't the movie on stage, but I think the stories lack some of the emotional punch that they have in the film. For example there's a line near the end of the circus sequence where Ewan McGregor says, "It was that night I discovered that most things you consider evil or wicked are simply lonely, and lacking in social niceties." It's lines like these that make the wild stories worth hearing.

If one number needs to be cut ASAP it's "Showdown" from act two. It's a fantasy sequence that doesn't work and the song is a mess. It sucked all the energy out of the show. It reminded me of that wild west number from "A Christmas Story," and it didn't fit with the rest of the musical.

As far as the tech aspects go, William Ivey Long's costumes were impeccable as always and the set was large, with many moving pieces. It felt like a big splashy musical, something that his been in short supply of late.

There were Stroman touches all over the place, and I found them to be delightful. I won't give them away because she does so well with surprising the audience.

I think all the problems are totally fixable if they use the preview period wisely. Big Fish might not be anything revolutionary, but it is a solid piece bolstered mightily by a strong cast. I look forward to going back in previews to see what work they've done.



SLIGHT SPOILERS to discuss the end**********************


I was worried about the ending, because this is where the film really got it right for me and I just couldn't see how they would replicate it on stage. The sequence stayed close to what happens in the movie with Bobby's character finally telling his father a story. This is where I think we should hear him sing for the first time; it's the first time he's ever needed song to express himself as well as finally understanding the importance/usefulness of storytelling.

END SLIGHT SPOILERS******************
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
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inlovewithjerryherman
Broadway Legend
joined:2/19/05
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/6/13 at 12:49am
I saw it in Chicago, and i must say that I am absolutely STUNNED that the Western number and the Witch number were not re-examined.

The Western number had almost become a laughingstock in the Chicago community...affectionately known as "There's Gonna Be a Hangin' Tonight". Like, are you kidding? I don't know if it's the same song (hopefully y'all New Yorkers are getting a better tune at the very least) but it's clear that the moment does NOT work and should be rethought...why would he confront his father musically? And in such a campy sense?

Also, I thought they would learn that the witch's number needs to be re-examined as well. She is a mystical, fortune-telling presence, NOT a belting, sassy diva. And it makes me even more upset now, knowing that Katie Thompson was replaced for Ciara Renee...I was under the impression that the moment would be re-thought, rather than a "look at how high I belt" moment that plagues all of Lippa's scores. Shouldn't it be something more tempting and mystical, along the lines of Sherman's "Trust in Me"? Stroman could keep her ingenious staging device and not have the song simply be a belt-fest...it's just confusing to me.

And then, we have GORGEOUS, intimate moments like "Daffodils", "Fight the Dragons", "I Don't Need a Roof", etc. that really WORK because they are about the PEOPLE and the STORY and don't push an agenda of vocal pyrotechnics or flashy staging (a song doesn't always have to explode...it can build to a gorgeous staging climax, like "Daffodils" does, in a quiet way).

I agree with Whizzer that Steggert's character should probably not sing until the end....but it's too late for that major of a change to be made...plus it cuts his part nearly in half, which he would not be happy about.

This is going to be one of those shows that frustrates me to no end...because in Chicago you could tell that they were honestly very close to creating a new musical that could be really special, and a major turning point for Mr. Lippa in terms of writing a cohesive, character-driven score, rather than a money-note score.

Here's hoping they can take a good, hard look during previews and be able to do the necessary surgery, no matter how painful.
I'm an old show queen , and I'm not even 30.
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Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/6/13 at 12:52am
The western number sounds like it's the same, with the hanging reprise. I think my love of certain kitsch took over on that one.

The Witch number I don't know- it wasn't really a crazy belting song. It was marred, however, but poor sound.
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inlovewithjerryherman
Broadway Legend
joined:2/19/05
Big Fish Preview Thread
Posted: 9/6/13 at 12:56am
Thanks for that, Kad...the Witch number, when I saw it, was FULL of Katie Thompson riffing her butt off, reaching for multiple notes in full belt above a high A or even multiple high Cs...it was clearly very difficult for her to sing, and it's intention was to be loud and show-y...and I just don't believe that moment is intended to be so LOUD and "BAM!"...you know what i mean?
I'm an old show queen , and I'm not even 30.

 
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