Neil Simon Theatre, (10/06/2013 - 12/29/2013)

First Preview: Sep 05, 2013
Opening Date: Oct 06, 2013
Closing Date: Dec 29, 2013
Total Previews: 34
Total Performances: 98

Category: Musical, Drama, Original, Broadway
Setting: Alabama

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Nederlander Organization (James M. Nederlander: Chairman; James L. Nederlander: President)

Produced by Dan Jinks, Bruce Cohen, Stage Entertainment USA, Inc., Roy Furman, Edward Walson, James L. Nederlander, Broadway Across America/Rich Entertainment Group and John Domo; Produced in association with Parrothead Productions, Lucky Fish, Peter May/Jim Fantaci, Harvey Weinstein/Carole L. Haber, Dancing Elephant Productions, CJ E&M, Ted Liebowitz, Ted Hartley, Clay Floren and Columbia Pictures

Music by Andrew Lippa; Lyrics by Andrew Lippa; Book by John August; Based on the novel "Big Fish" by Daniel Wallace; Based on the Columbia Pictures film screenplay by John August; Musical Director: Mary-Mitchell Campbell; Music orchestrated by Larry Hochman; Dance music arrangements by Sam Davis; Vocal arrangements by Andrew Lippa; Incidental music by Andrew Lippa; Associate Musical Dir.: Shawn Gough; Additional orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin

Directed by Susan Stroman; Choreographed by Susan Stroman; Associate Director: Jeff Whiting; Associate Choreographer: Chris Peterson

Scenic Design by Julian Crouch; Costume Design by William Ivey Long; Lighting Design by Donald Holder; Sound Design by Jon Weston; Projection Design by Benjamin Pearcy and 59 Productions; Hair and Wig Design by Paul Huntley; Make-Up Design by Angelina Avallone; Puppet Design by Will Pike; Associate Scenic Design: Frank McCullough; Associate Costume Design: David Kaley; Associate Lighting Design: Caroline Chao; Associate Sound Design: Jason Strangfeld; Associate Hair and Wig Design: Edward J. Wilson and Giovanna Calabretta; Associate Make-Up Design: Jorge Vargas

General Manager: 101 Productions, Ltd.; Company Manager: David van Zyll de Jong

Production Manager: Aurora Productions; Production Supervisor: Joshua Halperin; Stage Manager: Jason Brouillard

Musical Coordinator: Michael Keller; Conducted by Mary-Mitchell Campbell; Associate Conductor: Shawn Gough; Reeds: Charles Pillow and Richard Walburn; Trumpet: Dylan Schwab; French Horn: David Byrd-Marrow; Violin: Cenovia Cummins; Viola: Liuh-Wen Ting; Cello: Summer Boggess; Keyboard 1: David Gardos; Keyboard 2: Shawn Gough; Guitar: Jim Hershman and Alec Berlin; Bass: Brian Hamm; Drums: Perry Cavari; Percussion: Billy Miller; Music Preparation: Kaye-Houston Music

Special Effects by Jeremy Chernick

Fight direction by Thomas Schall; Press Representative: The Hartman Group; Casting: Tara Rubin Casting; Advertising: SPOTCo, Inc.; Interactive Marketing: SPOTCo, Inc.; Marketing: SPOTCo, Inc.; Photographer: Paul Kolnik

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Opening Night Cast

Kate BaldwinSandra Bloom
Norbert Leo ButzEdward Bloom
Bobby SteggertWill Bloom
Ryan AndesKarl
Krystal Joy BrownJosephine Bloom
Ben CrawfordDon Price
Brad OscarAmos Calloway
Anthony Pierini
Wed. and Sat. matinees
Young Will
Zachary UngerYoung Will
Bree BrankerEnsemble
Alex BrightmanZacky Price
Robin CampbellAlabama Lamb
Bryn DowlingDancing Fire
Jason Lee GarrettEnsemble
Leah HofmannEnsemble
J. C. MontgomeryDr. Bennett
Ciara RenéeThe Witch
Angie SchworerJosephine's Doctor
Kirsten ScottJenny Hill
Lara SeibertAlabama Lamb
Tally SessionsMayor
Sarrah StrimelGirl in the Water
Cary TedderEnsemble

Swings: Preston Truman Boyd, Joshua Buscher, Synthia Link and Ashley Yeater

Understudies: Preston Truman Boyd (Amos Calloway, Don Price, Dr. Bennett, Karl, Mayor), Bree Branker (Josephine Bloom), Alex Brightman (Will Bloom), Joshua Buscher (Don Price, Dr. Bennett, Mayor, Zacky Price), Ben Crawford (Edward Bloom), Bryn Dowling (Jenny Hill, The Witch), Synthia Link (Girl in the Water, Jenny Hill, The Witch), Kirsten Scott (Sandra Bloom), Lara Seibert (Josephine Bloom, Sandra Bloom), Tally Sessions (Amos Calloway, Edward Bloom, Karl), Cary Tedder (Will Bloom, Zacky Price) and Ashley Yeater (Girl in the Water)

Awards and Nominations

Drama Desk Award

 2014 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical [nominee] 

Bobby Steggert

 2014 Outstanding Orchestrations [nominee] 

Larry Hochman

 2014 Outstanding Music [nominee] 

Music by Andrew Lippa


music by Andrew Lippa; lyrics by Andrew Lippa

ACT 1 Sung By
Be the HeroEdward Bloom and Company
I Know What You WantThe Witch, Edward Bloom and Company
StrangerWill Bloom
My AdventureSandra Bloom
Ashton's Favorite SonCompany
Out There on the RoadEdward Bloom, Karl, Jenny Hill and Company
Sandra's WishSandra Bloom
Little Lamb From AlabamaSandra Bloom and Alabama Lambs
Time StopsEdward Bloom and Sandra Bloom
Closer to HerAmos Calloway, Edward Bloom and Company
DaffodilsEdward Bloom and Sandra Bloom
ACT 2 Sung By
Red, White and TrueEdward Bloom, Sandra Bloom and Company
Fight the DragonsEdward Bloom and Young Will
ShowdownWill Bloom, Edward Bloom and Company
I Don't Need a RoofSandra Bloom
Start OverEdward Bloom, Don Price, Amos Calloway, Karl and Company
Time Stops (Reprise) Sandra Bloom
What's NextWill Bloom, Edward Bloom and Company
How It EndsEdward Bloom
Be the Hero (Reprise) Will Bloom


AP: "Hyperkinetic 'Big Fish' Emerges With Heart"

Sometimes a musical gets you with the first kiss or a nifty bit of dance. "Big Fish" might be the first to do it with elephant butts.

The sight of three swaying caps a tumultuous first act that throws everything at you — acrobats, a montage, smoke, leaping fish, mermaids, werewolves and a ruthless cheerfulness — so by the time the simple view of puppet pachyderm rear ends appear, cheers come naturally from the audience.

Directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, "Big Fish" is a hyperkinetic, messy spectacle that really only finds its footing in a cleaner second act, finally emerging with real heart and style.

The musical that opened Sunday at the Neil Simon Theatre is adapted from the 1998 Daniel Wallace novel and the 2003 Tim Burton movie. The book is by John August, who also penned the movie's screenplay.

Norbert Leo Butz is perfectly cast as a manic father fond of tall tales about witches and giants, but who harbors a secret. Bobby Steggert is great as his exasperated son, tired of all the silliness. And Kate Baldwin is lovely as the woman trying to reconcile these two men before it's too late.

While acknowledging that the show is about a self-consciously rambling and absurdist hero, the bloated 90-minute Act 1 threatens to derail as visual gags, projections and busy scenes — plus a book that uneasily mixes whimsy and cancer — bombard the senses.

"People want to see things beyond their imagination! Bigger than life!" says a circus ringmaster. It's advice that Stroman clearly has embraced, for better or worse. The ante keeps getting upped with each scene and it gets exhausting.

Some jaw-dropping stuff is indeed on show: There's a stunning dance scene in which Benjamin Pearcy's projections are broadcast on William Ivey Long's sumptuous cloaks. There's a fun moment between Butz and a giant — an excellent Ryan Andes, channeling Monty Python — who have a good song called "Out There on the Road."

And the act ends with daffodils sprouting from every corner of the stage, a beautiful tour de force from set designer Julian Crouch that would be enough to end most musicals on a high.

After intermission, a big, bombastic song — "Red, White and True," complete with nine dancing USO girls whose bodies spell out "U S A" — proves no one wants to take their foot off the gas. It could easily be the 11 o'clock number in any other musical.

Then, finally, many of the toys are put away — wisely. "Fight the Dragon" is beautifully sung in a simple bedroom set, and Baldwin's torch song "I Don't Need a Roof" is a shimmering gorgeous thing, with her just cradling her ill husband, teary proof of her acting and singing chops. Both songs bring the show back to gravity in an emotional, beautiful way.

Even so, there are still unnecessary flourishes. One Act 2 song, "Showdown," a TV cowboy-infused battle between father and son is simply unneeded, especially since there's no call for a "hanging tonight" on top of fatal cancer.

Lippa, who also wrote the songs for "The Addams Family," has a knack for a classic, catchy Broadway sound, though many tunes come off as attempts for a hit-for-the-stands homer.

Stroman keeps the action flowing flawlessly — and her actors moving through an impossibly complicated world — and clearly knows when to let the beauty of the moment simply shine. She captures the magic of the original story and has created some undeniable magic of her own.

Butz proves he's simply in a league of his own, able to switch from middle-aged to teenager in a snap, offering a complex portrait of a Southern man while avoiding good 'ol boy cliches, and he even spends some of the night lying in a hospital bed, not the most expected way to lead a musical. But then there are lots of other fun surprises at "Big Fish," including elephant fannies.


New York Daily News: "Big Fish"

Broadway’s new musical fable, “Big Fish,” is a singing version of catch-and-release. It hooks you, then loses you — all night.

Fortunately, this show about fathers and sons and forgiveness has a saving grace in leading man Norbert Leo Butz.

The “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and “Catch Me If You Can” Tony winner is at his lovable and elastic-legged best as Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman who lived to tell tall tales.

But Edward is dying.

His long-suffering son, Will (Bobby Steggert) wants to know his absentee dad beyond fishy yarns of witches and giants. As Will digs into the past, Edward’s fantasies bleed into real life in a series of fairy tale-style vignettes. It’s “Death of a Salesman” meets “Into the Woods.”

Songs by Andrew Lippa (“The Addams Family”) are pleasant. The tender “Time Stops” stands out. But the whole score would benefit from lyrics less Hallmark-cliché and more personal. The boyish Steggert gets the most nuanced song, “Stranger,” about his unborn son and unknown dad.

The book by John August, who wrote the 2003 screenplay based on Daniel Wallace’s 1998 novel, has funny moments. Curious ones, too — like when a mermaid hands Will’s wife a necklace. Huh? The mermaid’s not real. And while Kate Baldwin is lovely as Edward’s devoted wife, so much focus on her detracts from the father-son story.

Both creators fail to mine a poignant vein. Edward is a fabulist. Will is a reporter. Both are storytellers, and that’s a deep connection, but totally overlooked.

Director-choreographer Susan Stroman (“The Producers”) wraps the show up in a splashy production that glides from circus to enchanted forest to war zone to a brilliant field of daffodils. Nice work by set designer Julian Crouch and projection designer Benjamin Pearcy.

Stroman’s dances — tap, waltz, hoedowns — are polished but a bit pedestrian. She’s famous for wild imagination, but she serves her “Big Fish” without a showstopper. Lucky for us, she managed to reel in a winner by casting Butz.

New York Daily News

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