‘Big Fish’ musical prepares to make a splash in Chicago

Big Fish

Norbert Leo Butz, Kate Baldwin and Bobby Steggert in a promotional photo for “Big Fish.”

Big Fish The Musical swims into Chicago’s Oriental Theatre for its first preview tomorrow.

Big Fish, a new musical from Andrew Lippa (composer of The Addams Family), is based on the 1998 novel by Daniel Wallace and the 2003 Tim Burton film. The book for the musical was written by John August, who also wrote the screenplay for Burton’s film.

The cast and crew are well-respected talents and include five-time Tony Award-winner Susan Stroman directing the production, two-time Tony Award-winner Norbert Leo Butz leads the cast as Edward Bloom, and Tony nominee Kate Baldwin (who recently starred in the Public Theatre’s production of Giant) starring as his wife, Sandra. Tony nominee Bobby Steggert (Ragtime) will play Will, with Zachary Unger (Chaplin) playing Will in flashback scenes.

Norbert Leo Butz and Zachary Unger rehearsing "Fight the Dragons."

Norbert Leo Butz and Zachary Unger rehearsing “Fight the Dragons.”

Big Fish tells the story of a man, Edward Bloom, who has spent his entire life telling larger-than-life stories about his supposed adventures to his son, Will. Now, as Edward grows closer to old age and death, Will must separate the man from the myths to determine who his father really is.

According to director Stroman, Big Fish goes back to theatre’s roots in storytelling, portraying Edward Bloom’s larger-than-life stories through large production numbers. Even with the hilarious tall tales, the show promises a heartwarming message about the love between a father and son.

Big Fish is one of the most anticipated musicals of next season. It marks Norbert Leo Butz’s return to musical theatre after his Tony Award-winning run in the short-lived musical Catch Me If You Can. The show also marks director Susan Stroman’s return to the stage since her Tony-nominated direction of The Scottsboro Boys in 2011.

Big Fish might also be redeeming for Andrew Lippa’s reputation after the critical failure of The Addams Family. Lippa’s score for The Addams Family was criticized by Ben Brantley of the New York Times for being a mix of “vaudeville song-and-dance routines.”

However, Lippa has said that the score for Big Fish is the one he connects emotionally with, having lost his father much like Will loses his father, Edward. Two songs from the score, “Time Stops” and “Fight the Dragons,” are now streaming on the show’s official website.

Big Fish will play a pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago before coming to the Great White Way next fall. It will play at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre from April 2-May 5, and will begin Broadway previews at the Neil Simon Theatre on September 4. More information about the show can be found at bigfishthemusical.com.

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One Response

  1. Big FLOP..

    Slow, boring, no energy, bad all the way around