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Big Fish

a Musical Comedy
by John August (book) & Andrew Lippa (songs)

COMPANY : Theatrical Outfit [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Balzer Theatre @ Herren's [WEBSITE]
ID# 5004

SHOWING : December 01, 2016 - December 18, 2016



Inspired by the novel and hit Tim Burton film, "Big Fish" spotlights Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman whose biggest hope is to live life to its fullest. Edward’s tall-tales thrill everyone in earshot except his questioning son Will, about to be a father himself, who demands to know the truth behind Dad’s epic stories of giants, fortune-telling witches and mermaids. Full of heart, humor and inventive stagecraft, "Big Fis"h offers an experience only theatre can – one that’s richer, funnier and bigger than life itself.

Director Tom Key
Karl/The Giant/Ensemble Blake Burgess
Don Price/Ensemble Daniel Burns
Jenny Hill/Ensemble Naima Carter
Zacky Price/Ensemble Benjamin Davis
Sandra Bloom/Ensemble Laura Floyd
Girl in the Water/Ensemble Caroline Freedlund
The Witch/Ensemble Randi Garza
Amos Calloway/Dr. Bennett/Mayor/Ensemble Bill Murphey
Josephine Bloom/Ensemble Julissa Sabino
Edward Bloom Travis Smith
Will Bloom/Ensemble Ben Thorpe
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Big Fish, Little Pond
by playgoer
Friday, December 16, 2016
To begin with, the set by Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay looks a lot better in person than it does in photographs. The "water" spilling out of the large circular opening center stage left (and the tiny one far stage right) doesn’t look at all realistic, but its sheen and its beautiful blue make it lovely to look at. The scale of the set is huge, but it is humanized by a real-water border along the raised playing area, lined with wild grasses. The larger area stage right contains a revolving section used to morph quickly to bedroom scenes. The bare black floor of the stage is used for the majority of the choreography.

And Ricardo Aponte’s choreography makes wonderful use of the skills of the cast. The luminescent Caroline Arapoglou gets the bulk of the dance moves, and she is radiant and wonderful. Randi Garza and Julissa Sabino also get to show off their skills a bit. When the entire cast is dancing, the movements are gauged to their capabilities. It’s movement-filled choreography, and no one is made to look inadequate doing it.

Tom Key has directed the show to keep its momentum rolling along, and rock skipping sleight-of-hand is admirably done. But what really comes through is the heart of the story. Will (Ben Thorpe) is sick of all the tall tales told by his father Edward (Travis Smith) and attempts to ferret out the truth of Edward’s life. What he finds diminishes his father’s standing in terms of some small truths, but reveals a heroic and selfless side not hinted at by the grandiose tales Edward spins.

Travis Smith is superb in the role, playing Edward from teenage years to his deathbed. The well-cast duo of adult Will and Young Will (Gabriel Bowles) support him admirably, and the ensemble cycles in and out of roles (and costumes by the Curley-Clay sisters) with the colorful energy of a three-ring circus. There’s not a weak performance in the cast, although it is a bit of a shame (except perhaps to their pocketbooks) that the numerous understudies, all highly skilled in their own rights, have been taken out of the metro Atlanta theatre pool of talent available for other holiday shows.

"Big Fish" features fine musical direction and accompaniment by S. Renee Clark, good sound design by Rob Brooksher, effective lighting design by Joseph A. Futral, and nifty props design by Maclare "MC" Park. I don’t agree with all the staging choices (real water falling behind the big circular cut-out is distracting, and circling items like lanterns in the center of the bare floor seems to invite choreographic mishaps). But the whole show works, riding on the broad shoulders of Travis Smith and infecting the audience with Edward Bloom’s joy for life. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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