Big Fish: The Musical at Footlite

Fans of the 2003 Tim Burton film Big Fish may be surprised to find out that it has been made into a musical. In 2013, Big Fish debuted on Broadway, where it opened in September and closed at the end of December after receiving mixed reviews from critics. Nevertheless, the play has enjoyed popularity in regional and European circuits, drawing crowds for its storytelling and heartfelt exploration of the complex relationship between a father and son.
To recap the story, Edward Bloom is a tall-talker, telling his son Will many stories about his life adventures. As a child (told through flashbacks), Will buys into the stories of his father befriending a mermaid, a giant named Karl, joining the circus, saving his hometown of Ashton, Alabama, and winning the love of his life Sandra with magical daffodils. However, as he grows older, Will is embarassed by his father, and moves far away, returning only when he marries and when he receives word his father is terminally ill. Determined to know his “real” father before it’s too late, Will and his pregnant wife Josephine goes digging into the past, discovering a house deed made out to his first girlfriend Jenny Hill in Ashton. Shocked and suspecting his father had an affair, he seeks out the house, and discovers the truth isn’t quite what he thought. Getting word that his father is in the hospital and dying, Will rushes to his bedside and realizes that his father was a far more complex (and complete) person than he let on.
Footlite’s production of Big Fish is sharp and professional, with a very strong, young cast Kyle Cherry’s Edward Bloom is charming and expansive, and devoted wife Sandra is given quiet depth by Regan Desautels. Will Bloom is played by the very gifted Drew Bryson as an adult, and a funny and effective Rocco Meo as a child. Karl the “Giant” is sympathetically portrayed by Zachary Hoover. Ernestly and sensitively intrepreted by Ivy Bott, Josephine Bloom’s character takes on a different dimension as both admirer and realist. The entire cast in this production are solid in roles that swirl in and out from real to fable to back again. The cohesion of the production can be chalked up to the practiced hand of director Kathleen Clarke Horrigan, and a terrific set designer Brandi Underwood and scenic artist Mary Lich — video projections on the screens behind the actors set the scene but don’t overwhelm the action.
Big Fish is a must-see at Footlite. The final weekend is July 20-23, with shows at 7:30 on Thurs., Fri. and Sat., and matinee on Sun. at 2:30 p.m. Thursday evening performances are only $10; Fri.-Sun. tickets are $23 for adults, $15 for youth. Call the box office at 317-926-6630 or go online to to reserve seats. The theatre is located at 1847 N. Alabama.