BWW Review: BIG FISH at Uppsala Stadsteater
Big Fish 8th of March 2019
Big Fish is a relatively new musical with lyrics and music by Andrew Lippa. I have to admit that I had not really heard about it before I saw that it would have Scandinavian premiere at the Stadsteatern in Uppsala the 2nd of March 2019. It first had a test period in Chicago in 2013 and was then played on Broadway the same year. The musical is based on the novel Big Fish by Daniel Wallace from 1998 and the movie of John August directed by Tim Burton in 2003. If you have seen a movie directed by Tim Burton, you will see the inspiration in the musical from the film when you look at the odd characters and the color scale similar to the characters in example the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But I also got a certain sense of The Greatest Showman with circus artists, odd characters like the bearded lady and a giant. The musical is permeated by a positive and happy feeling. Become your own hero by letting the imagination run freely, do not look backwards but start over. The music by Andrew Lippa is really happy and positive and gives a lovely feelgood feeling. The same feeling conveys by the texts translated by Adde Malmberg.
Big Fish is about Will Bloom who is starting to get tired of listening to his dad Edward Bloom's stories from his life. How likely is it that his father has met witches, giants and other strange figures? What he, as a boy, thought was a bit of exciting stories, is getting so boring and hard to cope with that he asks his father not to make a speech the the upcoming wedding. But the father can't keep his promise and there is a strong gap between them. When his father gets sick, Will returns home with his pregnant wife. Will definitely wants to find out who his dad was and starts looking around in his belongings and finds something he didn't expect and he looks at his father with other eyes. As his own son is born he continues his father's tradition of telling amazing stories for his son. The circle is complete.
The story moves back and forth in time and you have two actors playing Will and Edward respectively. The young Edward is played by Daniel Engman and the elder by Gustav Levin. The adult Will is played by Lucas Kr'ger and the boy by Oskar Laier. The change between the present and the past flows in a very good way and the flashbacks comes in a very natural way. In order to make it easy to understand who is who, the costume designer has American collage style sweaters with W or E as an emblem. Throughout, it is very beautiful and fun costumes which enhances the imagination and magic in the stories. The clothes for the "normal" characters like the mum and wife are more casual clothes. The scene design is also very good and feels lavish. It is a good cast in general. Daniel Engman is absolutely amazing as Edward Jr. Daniel is one of our best musical artists and has played in many musicals, but here in the role of Edward Jr he gets more space and I am very grateful for that. Daniel has a voice with a sound with a depth that is soft, comfortable and very maskuline at the same time. It is a pure pleasure to hear him sing and see him act. In the ensemble among others you find Annika Herlitz, who did the Swedish voice to Elsa in Frost.
This is a colorful, delightfully happy and positive musical and I can really recommend that you see it this spring in Uppsala.