Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why Did Ed SO Dislike Big Fish on Broadway

Well, we went to see Big Fish last night on our legal anniversary (5 years legally married - now in 10 states or so).
.
Anyway, Ed did not like it one bit.  I mean, so much so that he left at intermission.
.
I stayed, I didn't mind it - and in fact loved Bobby Steggert and Normal Leo Butz.
.
Why the annoyance? you ask.
.
 Well, let's say much of it was due to Jerry Mitchell (my father - not the musical theater director).  Edwin Bloom - the father - is a compulsive exaggerator (read liar); much like my father was a compulsive liar.  And, like my father, he did it for no good reason - even when he son simply begged for the truth.
.
Edwin from the movie
Now, in film version there is the quick cut away from Albert Finney (as old Edwin) to Ewan McGregor (as the young Edwin).  And in the flash back, the young Edwin seems somehow inncocent and wide-eyed.  He stories play almost as the truth - which no one else can see  Where as in the Broadway show, Norman Leo Butz plays both - and the lies are all too apparent.
.
And yet somehow, somehow, one is suppose to feel and think that  all this lying was done for some "pure" reason.  Maybe to bond with his son - although he doesn't bother to bond.  To make their time together more special - when the son really just wants to talk and maybe throw a ball.  Or to spark his imagination.  Dad is on the road all the time - and when he is there, he isn't there mentally.
.
Clearly this was written by some absent father looking for a get of jail free card - or a son who really really needs more therapy.  Big Fish worked on screen as a fable, a fairy tale.  It fails on stage because the lead character is a charming, emotionally distant liar (and the Jerry Mitchell connection becomes clear).
.
Having said that, Norm Leo Butz was amazing.  He is on stage nearly every moment.  And Bobby Steggert has the vocal chops for anything.  That's the pros.
.
The negatives - aside from the lying, absent, worthless father... Edwin spends a long time dying.  A really long time.  An Evita (on stage - not the movie) amount of time.
.
Dad ruins the wedding with inappropriate remarks after being begged to stay quiet.  He was a dick.

And a criminal misuse of Krystal Joy Brown as the wife of Bobby Steggert. I mean, good for casting a beautiful woman of color.  Shame for not letting this gal rock at least 1 song.  I saw her in Leap of Faith and she rocks.  Instead she literally (and I mean it literally not figuratively) says the message with a line like, "Can't you see Will, your father joined the circus to find love?" right after the circus story.  Painful.

No comments: