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Big Fish

a Musical
by John August (book) and Andrew Lippa (songs)

COMPANY : Act 3 Productions [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Act 3 Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 5482

SHOWING : April 12, 2019 - April 28, 2019



Based on the celebrated novel by Daniel Wallace and the acclaimed film directed by Tim Burton, "Big Fish" tells the story of Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman who lives life to its fullest... and then some! Edward’s incredible, larger­-than­-life stories thrill everyone around him – most of all, his devoted wife Sandra. But their son Will, about to have a child of his own, is determined to find the truth behind his father’s epic tales.

Overflowing with heart, humor and spectacular stagecraft, "Big Fish" is an extraordinary new Broadway musical that reminds us why we love going to the theatre – for an experience that’s richer, funnier and BIGGER than life itself.

Director Andrew Berardi
Director Michelle Davis
Karl John Coombs
Edward Bloom Stephen DeVillers
Jenny Hill Genevieve Leopold
Amos Calloway Michael Rostek
Sandra Bloom Suzanne Stroup
Will Bloom Jacob Valleroy
Girl in the Water Janie Young
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Bigger Fish to Fry
by playgoer
Monday, May 20, 2019
You enter into an auditorium whose walls are covered audience left with forsythia branches and audience right with netting and streamers suggesting a cave. The stage itself has a cave-like space stage left under a raised platform to which steps lead up. A lower platform flanks the upstage side of the set, with stairs center and 16 picture frames arranged on the back wall. More forsythia branches are affixed to the wall and banister. These little blotches of yellow flowers suggest that this production of "Big Fish," whose poster image shows endless daffodils, will be somewhat scaled down. The picture frames, filled with fuzzy cloud-like images, have an odd glow under general lighting. Are these LED screens that will change images to set scenes? No. They’re just a choice by the co-designers of the set (Sophie Harmon and the co-directors, Andrew Berardi and Michelle Davis).

That’s not to say that ACT3’s production is technically crude. Jeff Costello’s lighting design and Spencer G. Stephens’ sound design supply all the special effects needed, lending the show a nice variety of moods. Mari Miller’s costumes are impressive, especially in matching witch costumes, circus garb, and clothes for the giant Karl (audience favorite John Coombs). Props by the co-directors also impress. Johnna Barrett Mitchell’s choreography doesn’t seem terribly inspired, but it is ably performed by the cast, sparked by acrobatics from Elisabeth Clements and Lucas Pollitzer and showcasing Brian Slayton’s juggling skills.

Blocking nicely uses the open space of the playing area, with occasional set pieces moved on to set various scenes. No part of the audience is given short shrift, with singers of a duet changing position on stage in a natural fashion to ensure that audience members have equal experience of both singers.

Musical director Michael d’Haviland gets fine vocal performances out of the cast, who are perfectly in sync with the pre-recorded tracks that accompany the songs. Male lead Stephen DeVillers has a powerful voice whose power remains undiminished through the course of the show, bringing the house down with his final number. Suzanne Stroup, as his wife, nearly equals him in power and trueness of voice, and Jacob Valleroy, as their adult son Will, adds a lighter tone that blends in beautifully. All solo lines are well-sung, with John Coombs’ bass adding to the "wow" factor of his terrific performance on stilts. Ensemble voices are also quite good.

Acting gives appropriate weight to each role, with every ensemble member getting a chance to shine. Elisabeth Clements’ smiling face brightens every scene she’s in, and Golbanoo Setayesh’s facial expressions in the "Alabama Lamb" number delight. The major roles are all played with conviction, letting the story of the show come through strong and clear. Kat Altman, as Will’s pregnant wife Josephine, adds subtle humor and touching affection to her scenes.

This "Big Fish" is on a smaller scale than the show calls for. The arrival of daffodils at the end of the first act is a let-down, and the unvaried nature of the set provides a black-box scale to what could be an expansive production. The show seems more earth-bound and limited than the imagination of Edward Bloom, whose tall tales form the backbone of the story. The heart of the show is there; the glitz is there only in limited scope. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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