A 'Big Fish' Guide to Life
Monday, April 22, 2013 12:00 AM by Robert Bullen
Choose Chicago blogger Kara Carmichael already reported on the big, pre-Broadway musical Big Fish, based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and the 2003 movie of the same name, which is playing at the Oriental Theatre through May 5. So, I won't repeat a topic with my thoughts on the show (strong second act, particularly an amazing final 30 minutes, first act needs work, stellar performances throughout -- my review in a nutshell).
Yes, the show needs some work, but I have high hopes that with a few months between this pre-Broadway tryout and its September Broadway debut, director Susan Stroman and company will figure it out. However, the show's themes around the power of storytelling are quite potent -- so much so, that I've captured a few of the ones that I feel serve as a universal guide to navigating through life.
A BIG FISH Guide to Life:
You gotta think big to be big: As a small town man with big dreams, Edward Bloom (played by the amazing Norbert Leo Butz in this world-premiere musical) knows how to spin a story. And with each telling, the story gets more fantastical. However, his stories make us stretch our thinking and look outside our perceived limitations. Big ideas make us question what is right and what is practical. To succeed in life, you need to take risks and not be afraid to fail.
Follow your heart: When Edward sees the love of his life (a golden-voiced Kate Baldwin) in passing, he spends the next three years chasing her around the country. Following an intrepid quest (including a stint with the circus), he locates her, and she reveals that she's already engaged. No matter -- he bares his soul and gets down on one knee and she accepts. If you're truly passionate about something, go for it. Otherwise, you will keep wondering the "what if" -- and life is too damn short for that.
Define your inner truth: Edward's no-nonsense son, Will, resents that his father only speaks in half truths and fairytales. "He's a stranger I know well," Will says about Edward. However, by the show's breathtaking conclusion, we learn that his father's stories weren't so much lies as they were a reinvention of the world around him. Edward truly believed in his tales because they made his identity. Define your truth and live it.
Above all else, keep your word: Edward Bloom may have told some tall tales, but when he said he'd do something -- he'd commit to it, 100 percent. It's one thing to spin a fantasy through a tale, it's another thing to promise and not deliver. You need to follow through.
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