Edward Bloom, a teller of tall tales (“big fish” stories), tries to reconcile with his skeptical son from his deathbed: It may not sound like a promising premise for a Broadway musical. But with a little stage magic and a lot of dancing, director and choreographer Susan Stroman is able to bring Edward’s stories to vibrant life onstage in Big Fish. The Broadway adaptation of the 2003 film opens October 6 at the Neil Simon Theatre in NYC. Stroman talked to DS about what makes Big Fish worth seeing.
It’s a story full of great stories.
“All of us ended up in theater because someone told us big-fish stories when we were growing up,” Stroman says. “Those stories inspired us to tell our own stories. But this musical isn’t just about the fantastical elements—it also has a lot of heart.”
The special effects are awesome.
“It’s this great combination of old-world stagecraft and new technology,” Stroman says. “There are solid props made out of wood—and then a digital projection will transform that wood into something else. It’s almost a metaphor for the larger story: Something real becomes something fantastical.”
Pretty much every kind of dance imaginable is involved…
“Each of Edward’s stories has a different type of dance that goes with it,” Stroman says. “There’s a big USO number with tap dance, and then there’s a ballet piece where the dancers represent fire and air, and then there’s a good old Alabama stomp, because the show takes place in Alabama. Usually a musical just uses one dance form—it’s all tap or all jazz. But this particular story opens up ways to incorporate many styles.”
…and the dancers are top-notch.
“I have some of the best dancers on Broadway,” Stroman says. “Sarrah Strimel, Lara Seibert, Bryn Dowling, Angie Schworer—these people are very accomplished and well respected. There’s always joy when they’re onstage. I think dance fans will have fun seeing them take on different roles and styles. There are a lot of lovely surprises in store.”