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Big Fish

(Left to right) Kaden Hinkle as Will's Son, Matt Summers as Will Bloom, Rachel Turner as Josephine, and Megan Van De Hey as Sandra Bloom
(L to R) Kaden Hinkle as Will's Son,
Matt Summers as Will Bloom,
Rachel Turner as Josephine,
and Megan Van De Hey as Sandra Bloom
Photo: A&J Photography
"You should have seen the one that got away!" we say. "It was this big!" spreading our hands as far apart as we can.

We all exaggerate at times, some of us more than others, sometimes just for the fun of telling a good tale, sometimes to build up our own image and ego, or sometimes just to avoid telling the truth.

(Left to right) Kevin Schwarz as Edward Bloom and Matt summers as Will Bloom
(L to R) Kevin Schwarz as Edward Bloom
and Matt summers as Will Bloom
Photo: A&J Photography

Edward Bloom (Kevin Schwarz) loves to tell a good tale. His son, Will Bloom (Matt Summers), used to just roll his eyes to deflect his embarassment; but now that he's an adult, he thinks his dad is hiding something.

Everyone who has gone through ups and downs with their parents will resonate with Ed and Will's trials, in this heartwarming production directed by John C. Ashton, III, who focuses his staging on the key relationships and jettisons some of the hyperbolic spectacle that diluted the original Broadway run.

Megan Van De Hey as Sandra Bloom and Kevin Schwarz as Edward Bloom
Megan Van De Hey as Sandra Bloom
and Kevin Schwarz as Edward Bloom
Photo: A&J Photography
Schwarz is the dynamo of this emotional generator, deftly moving Edward back and forth between childhood and adulthood, while wowing us with his well-tempered tenor. Summers' smooth counterpoint is empathetic, even if Will was, as Edward describes him, "born a tiny middle-aged man." Will aims for a dependable daily routine, but Edward's life is that of a travelling salesman who throws Will for a loop every time he comes back home and encourages everyone to "Be the Hero" of his or her own story; a few scenes later, Will responds that he feels like his dad is a "Stranger."

Kevin Schwarz as Will Bloom, Heather Doris as Jenny Hill, and Mark Rubald as Karl the Giant
(L to R) Kevin Schwarz as Will Bloom,
Heather Doris as Jenny Hill,
and Mark Rubald as Karl the Giant
Photo: A&J Photography

Edward's wife and Will's mom, Sandra (Megan Van De Hey), loves "The Two Men in My Life." As always, Van De Hey's singing and delivery is a highlight. Her optimism makes Sandra, along with Will's wife, Josephine (Rachel Turner), the glue that binds the story to its uplifting and touching conclusion, after Will visits Edward's high school sweetheart, Jenny Hill (Heather Doris). Doris' compassionate portrait turns Will and the rest of us 180º.

(Left to right) Malerie Jo, Seles VanHuss, and Megan Van De Hey
(L to R) Malerie Jo, Seles VanHuss,
and Megan Van De Hey
Photo: A&J Photography
Edward's imaginative inventions—The Witch (Emily Jansen), a Mermaid (Malerie Jo), Karl the Giant (Mark Rubald), and Fire Dancer (Rae Leigh Case)—are loaded parables that eventually catch up with Will, who discovers that a good tale is often nothing more than seeing everyday folks as the heroes of their own lives.

Piper Lindsay Arpan's choreography is just plain fun. Nice accompaniment by David Nehls and his quintet.

The Aurora Fox's regional premiere of Big Fish runs through March 22nd. For tickets: 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org.

Bob Bows

 

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