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BWW Review: BIG FISH at Titusville Playhouse

Nearly flawless production of a beautiful and magical musical tale of loss, love and family

BWW Review: BIG FISH at Titusville Playhouse Stories have an amazing way of bringing to life experiences and concepts that otherwise might be too complex, too unfamiliar, or too uninteresting. And, while some might write off storytelling as something reserved only for childhood, it is, in fact, one of the most common ways we humans have passed along the oral histories of our lives for generations. So, if given the ability to tell the stories of your own life - would you be the hero? What about when others hear and interpret it? This is the case for Edward Bloom, the larger than life "hero" of the story of BIG FISH - now onstage (and streaming) at the Titusville Playhouse in Titusville, Florida.

BIG FISH, the musical is based on BWW Review: BIG FISH at Titusville Playhouse the acclaimed film by Tim Burton (which was based on the book by Daniel Wallace) and features music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and a book by John August. The play centers on Edward Bloom (Logan Denninghoff), an Alabama man who, according to his fantastical tales and stories, has lived an extremely remarkable life - one filled with Giants (Joe Rose), Mermaids (Scarlet Martinez), Witches (Jocelyn Evans) and a menagerie of other wild characters who all either help Edward along his way, or teach him valuable lessons about life that he passes along to his son. Trouble is, Edward's practical, no-nonsense son Will (Kyle McDonald) feels distant from his father and frustrated that he doesn't know the real Edward, just his fantastical tales which may or may not be true. Encouraged by his mother, the love of Edward's life, Sandra (Katie Gonzalez-Mussler) and his new wife, Josephine (Erica deJongh), Will, who is on the verge of fatherhood himself, sets out to try to get to know the real man behind the "magic" before it's too late and learns, along the way, how to be the hero in his own story.

BWW Review: BIG FISH at Titusville Playhouse Being that this was my first time seeing a production at the Titusville Playhouse, I didn't really know what to expect. I was familiar with BIG FISH, the musical, having seen the original Broadway production, but didn't know what the experience was going to be at the playhouse. Well, I can definitively say, that Titusville Playhouse's production is every bit as magical, and just as powerful as the original, if not more so due to the more intimate space. Director (and Executive Artistic Director) Steven J. Heron has brought together an astounding amount of talent for BIG FISH, and from the first chords of the overture to the curtain call, this production is breathtaking. He has woven together a tightly knit, well-oiled machine, one that sparkles, touches, and truly shines.

So what makes a musical like Titusville's BIG FISH make such an impression. Like Edward's stories that factor so prominently in the play, it is a combination of factors that, when woven together make magic.

First, you need a good storyteller, BWW Review: BIG FISH at Titusville Playhouse someone who knows about pace, process, and how to select the overall arc of the story - in this case, that would be Steven J. Heron, director. Next, you need a strong setting - a place where magic can happen and readers (or audiences) can be truly transported. For BIG FISH, this is achieved through a beautiful and functional scenic, lighting and video design (by Luke Atkison), costumes and wigs that help bring the story to life (by Jordyn Linkous - who also delivers some excellent dancing as choreographer), and a soundtrack to set the right mood (by Spencer Crosswell who serves as Music Director, Sound Designer and Conductor of a small but mighty band.)

BWW Review: BIG FISH at Titusville Playhouse But even with all of the above, a story needs a hero, a villain and supporting characters. People who help illustrate the foibles of humanity, go on exciting quests and allow us to put ourselves in their shoes, if only for a moment, to live our fantasies and learn lessons along the way. In this production of BIG FISH, every actor on stage truly shines. It is hard to call out all the "stand out" performances, because every one stands out their own special way. But at the center of this story, the actors portraying The Blooms each deliver powerhouse performances. As Edward, Logan Denninghoff is marvelous. His take on this wide-eyed dreamer is the perfect mix of simple farm boy and larger than life hero. His voice is stellar and his acting is top notch. As his wife, Sandra, Katie Gonzalez-Mussler is buoyant, full of life, love, and laughter. She sparkles every time she takes the stage and I just loved watching her and Mr. Denninghoff together. This was particularly powerful in the Act II number, "I Don't Need a Roof". As Will, Kyle McDonald is a great straight man to his father's flights of fancy. He has a strong voice and gives an impassioned performance that was quite moving.

Finally, for those who haven't BWW Review: BIG FISH at Titusville Playhouse ventured out to the theatre yet due to continued pandemic caution, I do want to point out all the measures being taken to ensure the safety of the audience and the cast in this production. Temperature checks are performed when entering the theater, plexiglass shields have been put up between seats, masks are required to be worn by attendees, and the cast is tested every week for COVID. This allows them to act and sing maskless and without distancing.

Overall, Titusville Playhouse's production of BIG FISH is one you do not want to miss. It is the perfect show to take in if you haven't ventured out yet and are itching for a magical night at the theatre once again. Or, if you aren't ready to make it to the show live, you can stream @ home, which for a show like BIG FISH, one that doesn't get performed quite as often, is a good way to experience it. Either way, if you are looking for a beautiful story filled, as Steven J. Heron says in the program, with "love, loss, hope, dreams and, most importantly, family" then BIG FISH is for you.

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BIG FISH, presented by Titusville Playhouse runs through May 16th. Tickets start at $25. Live performances take place at the Titusville Playhouse, 301 Julia Street, Titusville, FL 32796. Tickets can also be purchased for stream @ home performances. Tickets for live and streaming productions can be purchased by visiting https://titusvilleplayhouse.com or calling (321) 268-1125 - office hours are Tuesday - Friday 10-3.

All Photos by Titusville Playhouse: Niko Stamos

BWW Review: BIG FISH at Titusville Playhouse


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