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Big Fish PreBroadway Tryout

ggersten
Broadway Legend
joined:5/11/06
Big Fish PreBroadway Tryout
Posted: 4/6/13 at 09:25am
Sure, there's a thread on the main board, but the show is in Chicago, goshdarnit! Here was my review/thoughts:
Back from the Friday night (4/5) show. Excuse me, I have some tissues I need to throw away. There. I'm better. My comments are a little lengthy.

I didn't know what to expect. I sort of liked the movie, but wasn't a big fan. I only saw it one time in the movie theater and I don't think I've ever caught it on television. I found this version of the story more touching, more emotional and tighter than the movie - even thought it's longer! And thus more memorable.

The end of this show is so well done - "How It Ends" as delivered by Mr. Butz is incredibly effective. Lots of sniffling - although the level of your reaction may depend on your personal life. I don't know if the end is a spoiler or not - given the movie and several early foretellings -

Norbert does get to sing out much more than in Dirty Scoundrels and Catch Me If You Can. He does seem to embody Edward Bloom really well and shifts between "young" and "old" seamlessly. Just little things in his stature and movements. He looks to be having fun when he should. Excellent job.

Kate Baldwin was a dream. Her "Time Stops" could be a standard, some day. She is mostly one-note supportive and understanding wife - but I relished every moment she was on stage.

Bobby Steggert is wasted. He doesn't get to do much - and his character is annoying. As others have said, his anger at his father doesn't ring true. In the second act, there is a number where young Will is enthralled by his father's stories - but when we first see young Will in Act I, he is already turned off by his father. There has to be that moment when the young boy first starts to question his father's stories - to set up the disappointment and sense of betrayal. The wedding scene needs to have more than Will's mom saying "Dad promised" - there has to be a more dramatic exchange with Dad to prompt the break. The song "This River Between us" tries to set up the conflict - and it's almost there, but just didn't do it for me.

Krystal Joy Brown needs a dialect coach. I have a better fake french accent - and mine is pretty bad. But, she does look good!

There are some amazing sequences - particularly the witch's sequence. "I Know What You Want" The costumes and lighting and choreography were nearly breathtaking and I sat with wonder at what was being achieved on stage. That said, I thought the witch would belt more or scat or just "get down with it" more. It just felt like it could have been more on the vocals. Still, this was probably my favorite part of the show.

The circus sequence goes on and on and on. The elephant bit was cute but unnecessary. The song "Closer to Her" itself takes too long. Even the opening bit "Little Lamb from Alabama" could be trimmed.

The song "Bigger" starts out with such promise and then kind of fades away. I agree that I expected more of a major dance from Karl the Giant to blow the audience away. Maybe that's to come.

The Western number is deadly. Deadly dull. Uninteresing in concept, execution and music. It adds nothing. The Act II opening "Red White and True" could have been cute - but doesn't really add to the plot - it's not as wild a story - and it just kind of sits there. I thought it was going to turn into a kind of "Favorite Son" ala Will Rogers Follies. It's just not rousing enough to open Act II.

Lots of choreography in the show. The ensemble gets a real work out and lots of opportunities to shine. Major use of lighting - the projections were effective for the most part - but I didn't feel like they were used in place of scenery (like in Bring it On) - Donald Holder is listed as lighting designer and I think he did an amazing job.

There were some mic issues tonite - Steggert was difficult to hear especially when he was singing - some struggles with costume changes and one set change that took an extra minute (with open mics so you could hear people directing traffic!)

There's a lot to admire in this show - some excellent effects, some thrilling choreography - and I think it will get even tighter - and perhaps "bigger" - and if you're not getting just a bit misty at the end, you have a cold cold heart.

So, I would definitely recommend the show.

Lastly, we got tickets using the discount code "STORY" - there also is a discount code "SPRING" - and while they were supposed to be expired, they still worked. Left Orchestra seats with taxes and fees were $60. And the view was excellent. If you use the code "THANKYOU", you get $20 off tickets for Sunday-Thursday performances, per a bookmark they handed out after the show, although the bbookmark says for "select seating locations".

P.S. Saw it with a television writer/producer who thought the first act went on too long and most could have been cut. he enjoyed the second act though.



ggersten
Broadway Legend
joined:5/11/06
Big Fish PreBroadway Tryout
Posted: 4/22/13 at 11:13am
Compilation of reviews - from mildly recommended to highly recommended - much of the criticisms seem familiar to other comments on the main message board.... can't tell what if anything changed in these last couple of weeks.
Reviews are in....
Mister Matt Profile Photo
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Big Fish PreBroadway Tryout
Posted: 8/29/13 at 10:51pm
Other than 2-3 songs, I found little to like about the show. Baffling book, forgettable score and bizarre staging made this one of the messiest musicals I've ever seen. Kudos to the cast for working so hard to try and rise above the material, but it was difficult for anyone to truly shine in that show.

The Witch scene was terribly confusing. I didn't know what the Witchettes were supposed to be or why they had a long dance break other than to feature the wings of their costumes (or whatever they were). The projections were completely indecipherable from the front orchestra, so we had to wait for the explanation to find out why they were so important to the characters.

The Giant scene was too long, too dull, and WAY too cheesy. The vaudevillian schtick just wasn't funny and the choreography was too slight to be interesting.

The Family Tree number was cute, but there was no indication why it existed or why it was so big. If it had related more directly to the son and maybe illustrating a correlation to his desire for a "real family", it could have meant something.

But the kiss of death was that Wild West number. Didn't know if it was a dream, or delirium, or hallucination. The whole thing could have been better expressed in a revelatory and poignant ballad.

The book is simply too fragmented focusing way too heavily on the father's stories and little on the relationships, so we truly don't know why the stakes are so high so quickly. And Baldwin's character was so one-dimensional. It would have been nice to have some idea of her struggles with keeping a family together and an often absent husband, but instead, we just get a sweet devoted wife who probably has huge codependency issues the authors simply don't want to address or something. I don't know.

I really hope the creators do some massive work on the show for Broadway and actually give the cast more depth and dynamics to work with. I feel like all the effort was put into the design and the rest was on the back burner.

Dancing campfire? I mean, really?
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian

 
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