A new musical that has been compared to The Music Man and The Wizard of Oz — entitled simply, Big Fish — is currently bewitching audiences at the Moonlight Amphitheater.
The story shifts between two timelines. In the present-day real world, 60-year-old Edward Bloom, an indefatigable fast-talker, faces his mortality, while his practical son Will prepares to become a father himself.
In the storybook past, Edward ages from a teenager, encountering a witch, a giant, a mermaid, and the love of his life, Sandra. The stories meet as Will discovers the secret his father never revealed.
This unabashedly lavish production boasts dancing circus elephants, a mermaid who pops up from the orchestra pit, tree trunks that ingeniously morph into a coven of witches, and an entire field of daffodils.
Jonathan Infante’s out-of-this-world projections are brilliant and clever, and the costumes, by Roslyn Lehman, Renetta Lloyd, and Carlotta Malone — are creatively personified, and their inspiration never lags.
As Bloom, John Adamson gives a performance tinged with theatrical magic. He has the heavy acting burden of having to portray his character at various stages of life. He does it with consummate skill, and also shines in his many musical numbers.
Bets Malone, as his wife Sandra, also has to portray her character as a young girl and a woman in her 60s at various times. She shifts in and out of each age range with an apparent ease — a mark of her true professionalism. Her singing of “Two Men in My Life” and “I Don’t Need a Roof” is special.
Patrick Cummings is excellent as their son, Will, showing off his acting and singing chops with equal agility. His vocal work on “Stranger” and “Be the Hero” is inspiring.
Based on the Daniel Wallace novel, and a recent movie by John August, this piece of musical theater has a book by August with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party and The Addams Family). Clearly this is an important new score with lush orchestrations showcasing some beautifully simple melodies. Lippa’s work seems to improve from show to show, true to showbiz legend.
The leaps, the struts, the unusual steps of the dancers are thanks to the exemplary work of choreographer Karl Warden. His inventive touch is evident throughout, but especially in “Be the Hero,” “Red, White, and True,” and “Showdown.”
Getting his inspiration from the script and capturing the true spirit of the show, Steven Glaudini does a brilliant job as director, pulling us into the over-the-top telling of Edward Bloom’s tall tales with many tricks from his theatrical toolbox. What he and his associates have wrought is a thoroughly entertaining, highly sentimental, but honestly told story that is enthralling until the final curtain.