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Thoughts on “Big Fish” the 2nd preview, 05/03/13

Big Fish BroadwayThe second preview of an out-of-town try-out is a special thing for a few reasons. First, you get to see part of the process happening right in front of your eyes, and you also are seeing a production that is so fresh that you are seeing characters on stage finding new moments in the show as they go. It’s exciting, and clearly people want to see it; the show was sold very well.

But, with a second preview, you also are seeing a lot of things that desperately need to be fixed. I just wish that Big Fish didn’t flounder as much as it did. With the level of caliber that production has, I expected more.

The artistic team is genius – directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman (The Scottsboro Boys and The Producers), music by Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family and The Wild Party) and book written by John August (original screenplay writer for the movie of Big Fish), which is supported by some of my favorite Broadway actors in the business — Norbert Leo Butz, Kate Baldwin, and Bobby Steggert. This show has the talent behind it to be seriously good, and I think that’s why the show has some fantastic producers behind it, who are clearly throwing a lot of money at this pre-Broadway production.

I’m not going to go through and technically “review” the show, because I know hearing from folks that saw the show a few days later that the performers are getting 15-20 new pages a night of re-writes. The production team is hard-at-work trying to create a cohesive show ready for Broadway and they need this time to do it. I just thought the overall structure and writing would have been a little stronger from the get-go.

Here’s my few humble (extremely humble) reminders for the show’s producers and writing team:

  • Tell a story that could be told without the millions of dollars of projections, sets and costumes. If you took away all of the incredible technical design that show has, would the story still hold emotionally true?
  • Keep the relationships between the father-son, mother-son, father-mother, clearer so that we, as the audience, empathize with these characters at a greater degree — part of that is tell more of these types of relationship-based stories in Act I, and not just in Act 2.
  • Keep the fantastical stories shorter and crisper, so that the emotional core of the story isn’t being over-shadowed by millions of dollars of set and costume design in these tall-tales.
  • Keep the music as the emotional meat of the show, so that we can connect with the characters through music — not all of the musical material needs to push the story along — sometimes I wanted to just live in the moment of the emotion, instead of trying to listen to the plot through the lyrics, which I missed a lot of (the sound design team was working ferociously in the back to make everything work!).
  • Cuts are good (especially in the long-winded Act I).

These might be simple and somewhat “obvious” suggestions, but these were some of what took me out of the story.

Some of my favorite moments:

  • “This River Between Us”, “Time Stops”, “Fight the Dragons” and “How it Ends” were fantastic musical moments in the show. I loved these numbers the most. 
  • I loved the fact that cloggers were “characters” in this show — I grew up clogging professionally all around the world. But, if you are going to call them cloggers, you might want to have your actors actually clog, and not “fake” it or use quasi-tap steps to create the affect. CLOG! It could be an amazing moment in the show and these actors clearly seem capable of clogging!
  • The projections were incredible — so stunning and used so effectively. I loved the wood paneling in the set. It was gorgeous.
  • Beautiful colors all around in the set, costumes and lights. Beautiful.

But…..   I wasn’t emotionally connected as much as I should have been.

So here’s a few questions you might be asking:

  • Does Big Fish have a viable life on Broadway? Yes.
  • Will people generally like the show? Yes, especially as they make the show tighter (and hopefully more emotionally connected).
  • Will it blow people away? Maybe. It has the potential.
  • Would I recommend it? Not yet.
  • Will I see it again on Broadway? Maybe — the jury is still out on that. Depends on reviews and word-of-mouth and how they’ve updated the show from now to then.

I want it to succeed – very badly, and I wish all the best to the cast, crew and production staff of this show.

photo credit: Big Fish on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMusical

photo credit: Big Fish on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMusical

photo credit: BIG FISH on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMusical

photo credit: BIG FISH on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMusical

photo credit: BIG FISH on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMusical

photo credit: BIG FISH on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMusical

 
 

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Ten Broadway Christmas Gifts You Should Buy For Yourself

‘Tis the season to buy stuff… so why not buy some of that awesome show memorabilia or a cast recording that you’ve been eyeing the last couple of months.

Here’s the list of Broadway gifts I plan to buy this holiday season. I also bet these gifts would be the perfect idea for any Broadway enthusiast!

10. The Playbill Broadway Yearbook: June 2011 to May 2012 Eighth Annual Edition

Description: The new edition includes chapters on 70 Broadway shows, which is every show that ran during the season, not just such new shows as Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Once, Newsies, Nice Work If You Can Get It, and One Man, Two Guvnors, but the long-running ones from seasons past, such as The Phantom of the Opera, The Book of Mormon, and Wicked.

Why I want it: I love the idea of a Broadway yearbook — I’ve spent so much time reading articles, writing reviews, talking about new (and old) shows, and tweeting about it. It would be great to have a yearbook to help remember and celebrate this past year’s Broadway season.

Cost: $26.39 on Amazon

9. On Broadway – 2013 Calendar

Description: A 2013 calendar featuring Broadway playbills.

Why I want it: I had the 2012 Playbill calendar and loved it! Every morning as I eat my breakfast I stare at my Playbill calendar. Granted, there are a few shows I wish weren’t in there (like Million Dollar Quartet), but overall it’s a great calendar and a completely functional gift as well.

Cost: $10.09 on Amazon

8. Once – Vocal Selections

Description: This official sheet music companion folio to the stage version allows music makers apply their own talent to the beloved score of Once. The 12 selections are based on the renditions from the Original Broadway Cast Recording, arranged for piano and voice, with basic chord fingering grids included for guitarists.

Titles:
* Falling Slowly
* The Moon
* If You Want Me
* Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy
* Say It to Me Now
* Gold
* Sleeping
* When Your Minds Made Up
* The Hill
* Gold (a cappella)
* Falling Slowly (reprise)

Why I want it: It will continue to complete my collection of Broadway vocal selections, and I’m also dying to sing some of these new and updated Broadway arrangements. (I already own the movie vocal selections!)

Price: $11.55 on Amazon

7. Chaplin and The Mystery of Edwin Drood Broadway Posters

Description: The official Broadway window card posters of Chaplin and The Mystery of Edwin Drood measures 14 x 22 inches. Printed on glossy cardstock.

Why I want it: I love collecting Broadway window card posters! I have them lined on my office wall, and I always try to get the new shows’ poster. I do not have Chaplin or The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Price: $20.00 each at Playbillstore.com 

6. A few new Broadway Cast Recordings: Leap of Faith, A Christmas Story, Les Miserables and Anthony Rapp’s Without You

Description & Why I want it: I’ve been waiting for Leap of Faith cast recording since I saw it back in May. I can not wait to hear Raul Esparza sing this fun upbeat gospel score! I also would love to listen to A Christmas Carol during the holidays this year! I’m also excited to hear the new movie soundtrack for Les Miserables and Anthony Rapp’s Without You which I saw at the NYMTF last year (and absolutely loved). These are four fantastic CD’s that I can’t wait to hear!

Price: $14.99 – Leap of Faith, $12.99 – A Christmas Story, $11.88 – Les Miserables, & $13.76 – Without You

5. Theatre Tickets: Big Fish in Chicago and Matilda on Broadway

Description: Big Fish, a new musical based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and the 2003 Columbia Pictures film written by John August, will star Norbert Leo Butz as Edward Bloom.

Big Fish is directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, a book by John August, and is produced by Academy Award winners Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen.

The gifted child Matilda, unloved at home but supported by her teacher, tries to rid her school of its evil headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. Based on the Roald Dahl children’s book, the hit London production won seven Olivier Awards.

Why I want it: Amazingly enough, I will be in Chicago when the world premiere of Big Fish opens and I can’t wait to blog about it! I seriously can’t wait!! It will be my first time in Chicago and I also get to see a world premiere musical and it has Norbert Leo Butz in it. I just now have to grab my tickets but unfortunately they aren’t on sale yet!

I’ve been super interested in Matilda since it started development awhile back. It is one of my favorite children’s books of all time and I can’t wait to see what they have done with it! I feel like it’s going to take Broadway by storm!

(Really though, any theatre tickets to any show will suffice – these are just the two musicals that I’m most excited about next year!)

Price: $ ? – Big Fish tickets not on sale, $32.00 – $147.00 – Matilda tickets

4. A few new London Cast Recordings – Singin’ in the Rain and Top Hat

Description: The Singin’ in the Rain cast recording of the classic musical from London’s Palace Theatre, features Adam Cooper, Daniel Crossley and Scarlett Strallen. With all the charm, romance, comedy and tinsel town glamour of one of the world’s best-loved films, Jonathan Church’s brand new production features a score including the classics “Good Morning”, “Make `em Laugh”, “Moses Supposes” and the legendary “Singin’ in the Rain”. Adam Cooper, Daniel Crossley and Scarlett Strallen play the roles made famous by Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds.

Top Hat brings the glamour of Hollywood’s golden age and the glorious, tap-dancing magic of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to the West End in one of the greatest dance musicals of all time. Tim Walker of The Sunday Telegraph writes, “This is the most sublimely performed, choreographed, orchestrated and costumed musical I have seen in the last 25 years. I can’t ever see London – or me tiring of it. It is sublime”.

Why I want it: I love tap shows! I wish there were more of these types of shows on Broadway! Singin’ in the Rain is one of my favorite movie musicals ever and I also have a special place in my heart for Top Hat because I performed the titled number, as a solo, when I was in college. It’s been one of my favorite songs ever since! I hope that Broadway sees the success of both of these shows and gets at least one of them on a Broadway stage. Since I’m not going to London anytime soon, I’ll just have to listen to the cast recordings!

3. Broadway’s Carols for a Cure, Volume 14 – 2012

Description: For 14 years, members of the Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre community have raised their voices and lifted our spirits with this wonderfully eclectic holiday music series. Mixing holiday classics and brand new original material, this 2-CD set offers us the companies of Evita, Once, Peter and the Starcatcher and Newsies, among others, ushering us into a spirited holiday season. Celebrity guest stars include Ricky Martin, Cyndi Lauper and Perez Hilton.

Why I want it: First, it’s supporting a wonderful cause: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Second, I need new Christmas music every year to listen to. Third, Rebecca which didn’t even land on Broadway has a song on this album! (WTH?!) I think that’s the best part!

Price: $23.00 – Broadway Cares

2. The Broadway Cares Collection – 2012 Logo Christmas Ornament

Description: Decorate your Christmas tree Broadway style with the Broadway Cares white glass ornament, featuring the logos of more than twenty Broadway musicals from the 2011-2012 season.

Logos include: Anything Goes, Bonnie and Clyde, The Book of Mormon, Chicago, Evita, Follies, Ghost The Musical, Godspell, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Jersey Boys, Jesus Christ Superstar, Leap of Faith, The Lion King, Lysistrata Jones, Mamma Mia!, Mary Poppins, Memphis, Newsies, Nice Work If You Can Get It, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Once, The Phantom of the Opera, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Rock of Ages, Sister Act, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Wicked.

Why I want it: I have the 2010-11 Playbill Ornament and I absolutely love it. I want an entire Christmas tree filled with playbill ornaments! This is always on top of my Broadway Christmas wish list! Everyone always comments on this ornament and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this item goes to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS which is awesome!

Price: $20.00 – Playbill.com

1. Les Misérables Movie Tickets

Description: Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption—a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.

Why I want it: I have to be honest, I will be at the first showing of Les Misérables on Christmas day – there’s one at 9:00am, and instead of opening presents, I’ll be sitting in an empty theatre, having popcorn for breakfast and enjoying the amazingness of this movie.

Price: $6.00 – (first matinee price) Fandango.com 

 
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Posted by on 11/29/2012 in Broadway, News

 

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