Music & Lyrics By: Andrew Lippa
Book By: John August
Distributed By: Broadway Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I was first introduced to Big Fish when I saw the 2003 film adaptation of a novel by Daniel Wallace, entitled Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions. The movie starred Ewan McGregor as the younger version of Edward Bloom (portrayed by Albert Finney as he gets older). Edward Bloom is a traveling salesman who tells tales about his past that are larger than life. His son, Will (Billy Cruddup) has grown up hearing these stories on the rare occasions that his father decides to grace his family with his presence. On the verge of having a child himself, Will struggles with what it means to be a father and whether it is worth his effort to even get to know the reality behind his own father's tall tales.
Some years later, John August took the screenplay he had written for the film and converted it into something that could be used for a musical. In 2013, Big Fish hit the theaters starring Norman Leo Butz as Edward Bloom, Bobby Steggert as Will Bloom and Kate Baldwin as Ed's wife Sarah. In February 2014, Broadway Records released the Original Cast Recording of Big Fish. I loved the film, so I couldn't wait to see what it would be like transformed into a musical format.
The stories that Edward Bloom tells are larger than life and thus, the productions and songs in the musical must be large productions as witnessed in each and every track. It all begins with Be the Hero of Your Story, as Edward attempts to explain why it is important to tell tall tales and why being the hero of your story is a must. Another great and larger than life number is Out There on the Road in which Edward convinces Karl the Giant that there a more interesting life awaits him outside of the cave in which he has been hiding.
But the musical version of Big Fish is not all huge numbers and fun times. We see the anguish in Will as he struggles with his upcoming responsibilities and the nagging feeling that he never knew his father in songs like Stranger. Then there is the love story between Edward and Sandra told in the ballad Time Stops, the fun and hopeful song Closer to Her, the beautiful duet Daffodils and Sandra's solo pledge of love in Stay With Me. Once Will gets the truth out of his father in Showdown, he realizes just what the man is all about. Their reconciliation is understood in the songs What's Next and How It Ends. Will becomes just like his dad when he begins telling tales to his own son in the reprise of Be the Hero of Your Story.
The Original Cast Recording of Big Fish Soundtrack comes complete with a booklet containing photos from the production, the thoughts of John August and Daniel Wallace and lyrics to every song in the production. The songs are fun and quite enjoyable and reflect the original story extremely well. When a film is converted to a musical, you never know if a musical version is going to be as enjoyable as the film. I can honestly say, that I enjoyed the Big Fish musical just as much as the film and that my only regret is that the musical already has completed its run on Broadway. I think watching the songs be performed on stage would have been a great deal of fun. I am happy to add the Big Fish Original Cast Recording to my collection of Broadway musical soundtracks and plan on listening to it over and over again in days to come.