First Look Review: Big Fish at the Marriott Theatre will draw you in with its “fantastical sense of wonder” and blend of humor, creativity and emotion
By Sophia Gianaris
Playing at: The Marriott Theatre (10 Marriott Drive in Lincolnshire) through March 19.
(847) 634-0200. MarriottTheatre.com
History in short: With a book by John August and music and lyrics by Tony Award nominee Andrew Lippa, Big Fish is based on the film screenplay by August and the celebrated novel by Daniel Wallace.
Edward’s embellished, larger-than-life stories include many whimsical characters and sets, creating a fun ambience for the audience.
Storyline: Big Fish depicts the story of the charming Edward Bloom (played by Alexander Gemignani) regaling some tall tales of his childhood while writing the legacy he hopes to leave when he passes on. His adult son, Will (played by Michael Kurowski), who is preparing to enter fatherhood himself, questions his dying father’s life as he attempts to determine what is fact, what is fiction and what Edward may be hiding. Edward’s embellished, larger-than-life stories include many whimsical characters and sets, creating a fun ambience for the audience.
Quotable: “As a director who has worked a lot with magical realism, I was drawn to the fantastical sense of wonder in Big Fish and this production specifically. It’s a powerful, funny and heartbreaking story, filled with gorgeous music about the stories that truly define who we are and how we live our lives.” — Big Fish director Henry Godinez
What stood out: Where to begin? Within each story comes a new, creative set. For example, during the last song of Act I, “Daffodils,” the characters implement clever choreography using hand-held fans to blow daffodil petals around. The colors in the show are vibrant and fresh, fitting for each number, and each character has their own style for their own story thanks to some excellent work by the costume designers.
The stage is set like a square, so each section looks in on a different angle. The crew did a brilliant job working their choreography so all audience members can see every portion of the production. I never felt like I was missing out because I was staring at the characters’ backs.
Something that blew me away was the live music and the acoustics in the theatre. The pit orchestra did a phenomenal job serving as the perfect accompaniment, allowing the cast to steal the show with their voices.
Final thoughts: Big Fish is a pleasure-filled musical with the perfect balance of humor, creativity and emotion. It made me reminisce about some of my childhood memories — and the wild imaginations that come with being a kid. I think everyone who sees this production will be able to say the same. If you’re looking for a fun night out at the theatre, I would definitely recommend this musical.