Big The Musical – Bord Gáis Energy Theatre – Review
8 Dec 2016 – 7 Jan 2017
Twelve year old Josh is down on his luck. The girl of his dreams has just rejected him for an older guy and he’s too small to go on the rides at the carnival. He’s left to wander the arcades, which is where he discovers Zoltar . It’s an ancient looking arcade machine that claims to be able to make your dreams come through. He puts in his quarter, makes a wish and curses his luck. Another scam at the carnival as nothing has changed, that is until he awakes the next morning…
This is a musical that is based on the 1988 film, which helped launch the career of Tom Hanks. The film was converted into a musical in 1996 with music by David Shire and lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. The musical takes the basic storyline of the film and develops it into an all singing, all dancing production. The main difference between the film and the musical is the length, with the film lasting a mere 100 minutes and the musical not being far off three hours (including the interval).
This production is the European première of the show and will run until early January before transferring to the West End. The musical has the same producer (Michael Rose) as previous hits at the Bord Gais Theatre such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Elf, The Musical.
The cast are mostly known for their reality TV appearances, with Jay McGuinness, once of boy band The Wanted and more recently of Strictly Come Dancing fame taking the lead role. Josh’s love interest, Susan Lawrence, is played by Diana Vickers who made the semi finals of X-Factor in 2008. Gary Wilmot plays the role of Mr. MacMillan, who becomes Josh’s boss. There are over twenty in the cast, and all are proficient at their various roles.
It feels strange to wax lyrical about a set, but if you see this production, you’ll understand. One of the difficulties of transferring a film to the stage is the number of set changes required. This is normally quite complicated, but the use of a revolving stage along with a number of screens make it look easy. The set created a great many locations with considerable style.
The production really does pull out all the stops, from the twenty plus actors on stage to the impressive visuals and lighting. As with most musicals, it really comes down to whether you like the music or not. There’s a good mix of ballads and up tempo songs that are all relatively easy listening, with a full band hidden away. The production wouldn’t suit smaller kids, as the longer dance scenes and musical numbers would have them squirming in their seats, but for the rest of the family, this should keep them entertained with some good wholesome fun.
Find out more about the production here.