I REMEMBER loving the film Big the first time I watched it as a teenager, so I was excited to hear the musical version was coming to the Civic Theatre.
Maltby Musical Theatre Group is celebrating their 70th anniversary this year and I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the celebrations than by recreating the film that helped establish Tom Hanks as a major hollywood talent.
Big is the story of 12-year-old Josh Baskin, (played by Ben Drew), who is sick of being a kid and makes a wish on amusement machine Zoltar at the local carnival to be big, on to wakes up the next day with the body and appearance of a 30-year-old man.
The stunned boy-man (played by Andrew Trueman) runs off to New York City with best friend Billy Kopecki (Reiss Ward) in tow, to try and find the now-vanished Zoltar machine and reverse the wish.
Realising it’s no easy task to track down the novelty contraption, he some how gets a job at a toy company and lives life as an adult, even getting a girlfriend, Susan (Nicola Long).
I’m very impressed by the talent of the two young leads, Ben Drew and Reiss Ward, who were playing Josh and Billy.
Reiss, already a regular theatre performer, and newcomer Ben, who is enjoying his first taste of a large-scale theatre performance, work well together and I definitely see a big future ahead for these two.
The first half includes plenty of big production scenes from the whole cast, adding in a lot of song and dance sequences — but for me, the younger cast members stole the show.
My favourite scenes in the film are where the Zoltar machine starts up without being plugged in and Josh playing Chopsticks on a life-sized floor piano with toy company owner George McMillan (played here by Barry Foster) — and both are recreated perfectly and hugely enjoyable.
You could see how much effort the team behind the scenes has put in to make these huge props and I applaud them.
There were a couple of places on opening night where the music (which was great by the way) could be heard over the singing but this issues seemed to have been ironed out by the second half, in which Josh grows closer to Susan.
Will he stick with adulthood or find a way back home to childhood? If you’ve not seen or can’t remember the film, you’ll have to head down to the Civic to find out.
Along with the youngsters, Andrew Trueman, performing as the adult Josh, is a standout, with his acting skills, wit and subtle comedy touches all coming across fantastically, while Nicola Long is also good, although some of her solo songs last a little too long.
What really made my evening on opening night was the enjoyment of seeing the whole cast perform together.
This production certainly has more positives than negatives and the cast should be proud of their performances both individually and as a whole.