BWW Review: Theatre Raleigh's Inventive, Heartfelt BIG FISH Transports Audience to a Simpler Time
Theatre Raleigh's BIG FISH transports audiences to a simpler time, before the age of social media and the insatiable need to curate personal stories on small screens. This is the stuff of pure imagination.
Based on Daniel Wallace's 1998 novel, BIG FISH centers around the character of Edward Bloom (Timothy Gulan), a traveling salesman who spins some tall tales about mermaids, giants, witches, and werewolves to his son Will (Chris Dwan). But Will, who is getting ready to start a family of his own, isn't buying the stories his dad is telling and is running out of time to reconcile the metaphorical river between them.
Gulan's charismatic Bloom exudes a boyish charm and energy that makes it easy to buy the bill of goods he is selling. Lauren Kennedy's winsome performance as Bloom's wife Sandra is enchanting and heartfelt and reminds us that beyond her role as Producing Artistic Director of Theatre Raleigh, she is a Broadway star in her own right. Dwan, as Will, holds his own against the veteran leads and sings with a clarity that resonates throughout The Kennedy Theatre. And the strong supporting ensemble cast sing and stomp their way through Andrew Lippa's perky score and Abbey O'Brien's choreography with an eagerness that is infectious.
Director Eric Woodall's inventive and resourceful staging makes creative use of The Kennedy Theatre's limited space, which is almost unrecognizable against Josh Smith's sprawling set.
There are brief moments when BIG FISH feels a little too big for Theatre Raleigh, however, amidst a nation of fake news and cynics, BIG FISH is a breath of fresh air reminding us that it's okay to dream, and in the end, it's not our stories that define us, but our love for one another, that truly matters.
BIG FISH runs through July 22nd at The Kennedy Theatre at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Author Daniel Wallace joins the cast for a post-show talk-back July 19th and July 22nd (sold out). For more information visit:
Photo by Jennifer Robertson