A few thoughts on

broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
A few thoughts on
Posted: 11/7/13 at 12:52am
I finally made it around to visit Big Fish. My visit began with no expectation and no recent viewing of the film to poke my brain throughout the performance.

I *love* Susan Stroman. I wore out my VHS recording of Paper Mill's Crazy For You and I have been hooked ever since. Her choreography is still vivid in my brain from "A Christmas Carol". She aims high here and throws every trick up her sleeve at the stage, but they RARELY stick.

John August's book is fair to middling and Andrew Lipp'a score is serviceable in you seat - though many times the lyrics are painfully obvious and basic - but you forget every line of melody before you leave the building.

Kate Baldwin and Bobby Steggert are winning in their portrayals, particularly considering their material. The show truly works best when one or both of them are on stage playing an intimate scene or singing a solo. It is genuine, it's heartfelt and both manage to pull you in. The sole reason I was moved in the end was Bobby Steggert.

To be fair, Baldwin gives a winning performance, but there is absolutely ZERO Alabama in her performance and far too much Dublin. There is a dialect coach listed. Perhaps she worked with everyone EXCEPT Ms. Baldwin.

Krystal Joy Brown is sorely under utilized, Kirsten Scott makes a nice impression in a thankless role (I hope she treads the boards for years) and Brad Oscar is great fun, though perhaps a touch over the top here. Ciara Renee as the Witch is serviceable, but has no impact (Her look is designed perfectly, however, so she WAS given the tools to be more).

The ensemble is comprised of many, many very talented individuals, most of whom I have seen elsewhere and will gladly see in many things, but there doesn't seem to be complete cohesion. The only bond I could see amongst the group was the commonality in Stroman's love for a tall, leggy chorus woman.

William Ivey Long's costumes are a stand out and all get the job done. They should have allowed him to costume the band as well, because THAT reveal had me expecting someone to set out the ghostlight.
Donald Holder's lighting was well done particularly in intimate scenes.
Jon Weston's sound design was mostly superb, especially in his use of surround sound.
Will Pike's puppets are almost all wonderfully successful.

I took issue with Julian Crouch's set design (it definitely is a descendant of the scenic design for Bonnie and Clyde). It had great pieces and the automated pieces moved well enough, but the manual scene changes were disastrous, breaking the dream-scape style created by the rest of the design. Stagehands were often visible.

Benjamin Pearcy / 59 Productions really delivered on the bulk of the projections. The vast majority were striking and a few times breathtaking. Unfortunately, several times they created an unfocused image akin to taking off your glasses during a 3-D movie and at the climax the style of animation changes COMPLETELY, going from scenery to action. Not only is it jarring, but the graphics suddenly look as though a mid-1990s issue of Sim City has run wild on the Simon's stage.

I was sorely disappointed by Norbert Leo Butz. Perhaps he was ill, but he just did not sound pleasant in the score and he just didn't ground the show until his character's problems are fully pushed to the front in Act Two. He relies almost exclusively on the shtick that worked for him in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and there is little sincerity in the performance until half way though athe second act... Butz fans will be thrilled, but he will not win new ones here.

Steggert'a character, Will, is who undergoes the growth and journey of the show exploring these tales... yet he is often pushed to the side, if not offstage, in order to highlight and focus on Edward Bloom as played by Butz. The show would be much more successful as a piece of theatre if it revolved around Will as the leading man with Edward as the supporting role. You can feel that structure wanting to leap off the stage and they do everything possible to prevent it. It truly is WILL's story being told here.

In all, I am glad I went. Through the faults, I was moved by the actors and it is worth seeing if you are a fan of Butz, Balwin Steggert or Oscar... or even if you appreciate innovation and are curious to see where projection / media technology is and where it is going. It's integration here is near seamless.


(Final note: The boy scouts warming their hands around the campfire, as portrayed by a dancer, left me feeling rather.. awkward.)

Updated On: 11/7/13 at 12:52 AM
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
A few thoughts on
Posted: 11/7/13 at 05:07am
Define: A FEW thoughts.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
A few thoughts on
Posted: 11/7/13 at 09:54am
A few thoughts.. I just did not specify how I would comment on each thought.