Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Big --- The Musical"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark


"Big, The Musical"

Book by John Weidman
Music by David Shire
Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr.
Directed by Lisa Rafferty
Music Direction by Tim Evans
Choreography by Ceit McCaleb

Set Design by Buddy Souza
Lighting Design by Heidi Hinkel
Costume Design by Joe Breen, Johanna Weintraub, Sherilyn Levy
Sound Design by Chris Stern
Stage Manager Kristie Froman

Josh Baskin (Small).........Garrett R. Murphy
Josh Baskin (Big)...................Zachary Hardy
Billy Kopecki..........Jonathan Randall Silver
George McMillan........Paul O'Shaughnessy
Susan Lawrence.....................Johanna Perri
Paul Seymour............................Scott Davis
Mrs. Baskin..........................Charlotte Dietz
Miss Watson.........................Phyllis Walters
Zoltar..........................................Jim Ansart
Mr. Baskin................................Eric Cooper
Mr. Kopecki.....................Robert Kimeczko
Abigail.................................Alastar Connor
Nick..........................................Artie Leger
Diane....................Laura Schrader-Johnson
Tom.......................Marlon Dashawn Smith
Derek...............................Joseph C. Walsh
Cynthia...................................Kelly Zutrau
ENSEMBLE
Amanda Aldi, Caitlin Allen, Michelle Estrada, Emily Lemieux, Elaine Lewis, Erica McLaughlin, Stephen Murphy, Gregory O'Block, Alison E. Petrucci, Rachael Rabinovitz, Marta Rymer, Kristen Smith, Phyllis Walters, Asley Williams

Isn't it wonderful to see a big new Broadway musical open here in Boston? Fresh new music, lyrics you've never heard before, an original plot --- and, even if the critics down in The Apple may have been less than kind, isn't a new cast energetic and eager to bring new life to the stage? Well all that's happening. The Footlight Club in Jamaica Plain is doing the Boston premiere of "Big" in a production as delightful as anything that might have come through those big barns downtown in many a moon.

I'd never seen the musical nor its non-musical film original, so the story was new. At Eliot Hall, Garrett R. Murphy plays an inarticulate almost-thirteen-year-old who wishes to be big --- and Zachary Hardy plays him when he suddenly gets his wish. Jonathan Randall Silver is the hero's friend, and Johanna Perri is the toy-company marketing executive who falls for this child in men's clothing, with Paul O'Shaughnessy as the quirky toy-company president, and Scott Davis as the button-down toy-developer who's the villain of the piece. Oh yes, and Jim Ansart is Zoltar, the wish-fulfiller-under-glass.

This is a big undertaking for a community theatre, with thirty-one cast members, several changes of Buddy Souza's colorful sets, ensemble singing and dancing, kids doubling as grown-ups and vice-versa, half a hundred changes of costume, nearly a dozen supporting roles, and everything bubbling with the excitement of a Boston premiere.

As with any major musical premiere, only a few of the memorable moments stick in a reviewer's mind: Zachary Hardy and Paul O'Shaughnessy picking out duelling "chop-sticks" by dancing on a huge piano keyboard; Charlotte Dietz singing a mother's ballad about kids growing up too fast; Johanna Perri's baffled amazement and Zachary Hardy's baffled consternation as their love affair progresses; Phyllis Walters' eternal secretary; Ceit McCaleb's energetic choreography, and Lisa Rafferty's solid direction, and the uncanny feeling that Jim Ansart really is a mechanical doll.

Recently the Arlington Friends of The Drama brought "Side Show" to Boston and now the Footlight Club has done the same for "Big" --- both of them interesting musicals the big money-men in New York thought it a waste of their time and money to bring to Boylston or Tremont Street --- not when they could give us more important fare like "Titanic" "Victor/Victoria" "Godspell" or "Annie" or "Phantom of The Opera" for the eleventh shop-worn time. But, however "little" the Footlight Club may seem to those wise theatrical moneymen, their "Big" is a winner. And all Boston should be grateful.

Love,
===Anon.


"Big, The Musical" (till 17 February)
THE FOOTLIGHT CLUB
Eliot Hall, 7A Eliot Street, JAMAICA PLAIN
(617) 524-3200


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