Broadway In Chicago is happy to introduce “Short and Sweet,” a quick view of our shows courtesy of Diana Martinez, who will give you the lowdown on Broadway In Chicago productions from the perspective of an audience member. Diana has more than 25 years of experience as an entertainment executive, most recently as President of The Second City. She has directed and produced over 40 live Broadway musical theatre shows and has presented more than 350 world-class Broadway national tours, dance, headline comedians and concert. We hope you enjoy this quick insight into our shows, and since this is all about our audience, share your own thoughts with us in the comments below.
Big Fish is a Great Catch!
We all have known that person who never lets the truth stand in the way of a good story. In the case of Big Fish, that quality fuels the protagonist, Edward Bloom, a provincial sort of man with the ability to spin a tale. The more he amuses the crowd with his entertaining tales, the more it irks, embarrasses, and distances his son Will, portrayed by the perfectly suspicious Bobby Steggert.
The opening night audience showed their enthusiasm and awe for the immense creativity and concept coordination displayed by this brilliant production team with several ovations within the first few minutes of the show. One for the ingenious water effect, the second for the perfectly timed and lit orchestra reveal — the musicians cleverly stacked upstage three “stories” high behind a scrim — and later in the forest scene, which was absolutely gorgeous, innovative and magical. “It’s truly amazing what they did with the video in this show,” commented my guest audience member Dan Gartlan of Downers Grove. The coordination of choreography with the visual video projections, lighting and costumes was artfully mastered and perfectly executed and the audience responded in a show-stopping ovation.
The casting is spot on across the board. I can’t urge Chicago audiences enough to take advantage of seeing this Broadway preview and two time Tony-Award®-winning actor Norbert Leo Butz (Wicked, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Catch Me If You Can, Is He Dead) perform a role that couldn’t be more perfectly suited for him. He is without a doubt one of the most charismatic story tellers on stage today. He is the master of perfect, comic timing and physical comedy, and yet can draw you in with earnest sincerity.
Butz is perfectly supported by Kate Baldwin as his wife Sandra, who balances a joi de vivre with inner-strength and has a voice that sails in a poignant and heart-felt ballad “I Don’t Need a Home.” Steggert’s unflappable and contained determination is the right counter part to balance this powerhouse trio.
As the musical unfolds we realize that any story is in its most basic form is simply a series of events that is interpreted by someone from their own point of view. We can be suspect to an interpretation or simply enchanted by it. In the case of the son Will, he is compelled to find truth and dispel what he perceives to be myths of grandeur spun by his father. Through his suspicion and determination to reveal that “the emperor has no clothes,” he discovers the most compelling and heroic accomplishment his father was truly responsible for, yet had the discretion never to tell. Through this, Will finds the one thing he never had for his father — empathy, respect and inspiration. The father and son relationship tension builds to the end with a heart-tugging finale that made even the most stoic members of the audience wipe away a tear, leaving them with a sense of understanding and hope as they rose to their feet. Big Fish is an amazing catch for Chicago. See it before it gets away!