It is a story of love. It is a story of dreams. It is a story of being misunderstood and one of wanting to understand. Big Fish is a story filled with stories, and it’s one definitely worth watching.
The 12 chairs version of this musical performed at the black box theatre of The Encore created an intimate setting for this musical exploring the truths and exaggerations behind a faltering relationship between father and son, between a dreamer and a realist. As Will questions everything he knows about his father, he dives deep into the stories he’s grown to doubt.
It all starts with a witch who tells Edward Bloom how he dies. The aura around this scene gave me chills. With Anna Birmingham killing it as the witch surrounded by four dancing creatures and green lighting and music to set the mood, I would’ve freaked out just like Zacky Price. The town of Ashton is too small for a man like Edward Bloom, creating a big fish in a small pond. Edward sets out to see the world and befriends a giant named Karl and a circus ringmaster who is secretly a werewolf, only to come across love at first sight when he sees Sandra, winning her over at Auburn University with daffodils. His adventures are wondrous and empowering — just enough so for Will to become skeptical of the tales he once loved.
The entire cast rocked every song and dance move, from the Alabama Stop to the “Little Lamb from Alabama” routine. In the number “Stranger,” Billy Eric Robinson as Will nailed the longing of a son that just wants to know who his father really is before it’s too late and as he prepares for fatherhood himself. Emmi Bills and David Moon’s beautiful love duet “Daffodils” captured the chemistry that lets the audience see how Edward’s dream finally came true as he finds his soulmate, and Bills’s touching rendition of the ballad “I Don’t Need a Roof” perfectly reinforced that love. Ridiculous laughter was provided by Connor Giles and James Fischer as the hilarious brother duo Don and Zacky Price. Moon nailed the often rapid transition between acting as a sick, dying man and as an exuberant young man with his entire life ahead of him and his sights set to the skies. Together, all 12 members of the cast created a beautiful story that stretches your imagination.
Stories are a source of inspiration, and as Will reconciles this with the father he never knew, he realizes that the man who’s like a stranger to him is a man who is just finding a way to leave a memorable legacy for the family he loves.
If you’re in the area for the next month, be the hero of your own story and go out to The Encore in Dexter to watch this talented cast tell this story you don’t want to miss.