After a lessthanstellar threemonth run on Broadway, “Big Fish,” a sweet movie-turned-musical, underwent an overhaul by its creative team in an effort to make the show more accessible to small theaters. Unfortunately, it still feels like a marginal musical adaptation of a touching story.
For starters, the music is boring, predictable and filled with enough bad rhymes that you could easily get distracted trying to think of other possible rhyming scenarios. It also contributes nothing to advance the unfolding of an already flimsy plot.
“Big Fish” is the story of Edward Bloom, a tall-tale telling traveling salesman whose grown son, Will, harbors deep resentments and longstanding embarrassment about his father’s penchant for exaggeration. Edward’s impending death brings Will to his bedside for a big reconciliation, but not before the big 'aha' moment.
So much of the SpeakEasy Stage Company’s current production is flat that even this life-changing awareness is pretty unspectacular. Edward (Steven Goldstein) has no chemistry with his wife Sandra (Aimee Doherty). Their son Will (Sam Simahk) displays the only real emotion in the production, but his constant state of annoyance is, well, annoying.
Lee David Skunes delivers an impressive turn as Karl the Giant, walking on stilts and creating the only truly touching moment at Edward’s grave site. And Aubin Wise’s solid performance as The Witch provides some much-needed magic.
But there are witches, a werewolf, a mermaid and a giant on stage, yet hardly a hint of whimsy, fantasy or the kind of imagination that should come from such scenarios. Even the set is dull and ineffective, missing the opportunity to generate some sorely lacking excitement.
Perhaps the creative team should rethink their strategy. “Big Fish” is a lovely story with great potential for a heartwarming musical. But as is, it won’t even swim in small ponds.
If you go
Through April 11
BCA Calderwood Pavilion
527 Tremont St., Boston
$25 - $61