BWW Review: Hale Centre Theatre Reels In A Big Hit With BIG FISH
Hale Centre Theatre has netted a big hit with BIG FISH, the utterly charming and whimsical narrative of a man (Edward Bloom) with a giant proclivity for tall tales and his son (Will) who yearns to uncover the truth about his storytelling hero.
Directed and choreographed by Cambrian James and based on Daniel Wallace's novel, Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions, the show is a heartful and bittersweet immersion into the roiling waters of relationships.
Chad Campbell, in what I would argue is a defining moment in his acting career, delivers a superb performance as Edward Bloom, imbuing his character with the requisite blend of bravado, gentility, and vulnerability.
The story tracks the stages of Bloom's life ~ as a young man with bold dreams; as a young father, more often on the road as a traveling salesman, but, when at home, regaling his son with fantasies about a mermaid, a giant, and a witch; as a man whose end is near and for whom final judgments are pending. At each point in Edward's odyssey, Campbell's physicality and demeanor befit his appointed age, his voice a pure and authentic reflection of his feelings.
Nicholas Gunnell delivers an equally strong and persuasive performance as Will, a portrayal that stands in perfect contrast to Campbell's. Will, too, is searching, but his road is directed to unearthing what he believes is a secret that his father holds too close to his chest; a secret, which, when revealed, will tell the truth about Edward. As Will becomes a parent to a son, his sense of urgency is heightened and his quest takes him to a surprising find.
One of the great strengths of this production is that the other featured performers ~ Laura Anne Kenney as Bloom's wife, Sandra; Greta Perlmutter as Will's wife, Josephine; and Ashley Jackson as The Witch ~ combine inspired acting with equally inspiring and powerful voices. They give definition and depth to Andrew Lippa's rousing music and lyrics.
As a reflection of Edward's fantasies ~ the ones of mythic proportions ~ James's spirited choreography engages a colorful circus of characters (outfitted in Mary Atkinson's festive costumes) who are collectively the figments of Bloom's imagination.
No spoilers here about the secret life of Edward Bloom, except to note that his secret may be the key to the good life, where one's future is within one's power to create and where we can be the heroes of our own self-directed stories.
BIG FISH, an inspiring and soulful production, runs through June 30th at Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert.
Photo credit to Nick Woodward-Shaw