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  Big Fish at Nederlander Theatre

Big Fish

Nederlander Theatre
24 W. Randolph Chicago

A rollicking fantasy set in the American South, BIG FISH centers on the charismatic Edward Bloom, whose impossible stories of his epic adventures frustrate his son Will. As Edward’s final chapter approaches, Will embarks on his own journey to find out who his father really is, unraveling the man from the myth, the truth from the tall tales.

Thru - May 5, 2013

Price: $33-$100

Show Type: Musical

Running Time: 2hrs, 40mins; one intermission

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Nederlander Theatre Seating Chart

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  Big Fish Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...Broadway, and Chicago, should be angling for "Big Fish" to swim is way upstream; it's a classy, detailed, heartfelt piece full of rich music and quality writing with far more Southern authenticity, and less Red State condescension, than, say, Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Whistle Down the Wind" or most other tuners designed to exploit the characters of Dixie. This one is truer to the tales of Alabama. And in the best moments, you feel like you watching something deep and powerful, sourced by a work of fine Southern literature, propelled into awareness by a potent film and, most crucially of all, a story that makes us feel we can control, if not transcend, the story of the end of our lives."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...Stroman’s direction captures the story’s heart and humor, but it is her choreography — not just the wit and invention she brings to the superbly danced big numbers, which feature everything from batlike witches, giants and mermaids to cheerleaders, U.S.O. girls and sexy Wild West good time girls, but the sheer flow of storytelling — that is her winning ticket. The orchestra (seated on three levels overlooking the stage, though only rarely seen) gives the show a lustrous sound. And the melding of Julian Crouch’s “story-framing” sets, animated by grandly poetic projections of Benjamin Pearcy and by William Ivey Long’s wonderfully textured costumes, could not be more ideal."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Julian Crouch's sets are wonderfully suggestive. And even if he isn't visually believable when playing the dad as a young man, Norbert Leo Butz brings an almost Cohanesque energy to his performance. But what most clearly connects this show to Burton's opus is the playful, imaginative, big-hearted choreography by Susan Stroman."
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Tony Adler

Centerstage - Highly Recommended

"...Norbert Leo Butz is one of the finest actors of his generation, and in "Big Fish," the widely anticipated new musical based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and the 2003 film, he may very well win his third Tony Award."

Joseph Bowen

Time Out Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...the creators have a strong underlying plot that seems to lend itself to musicalization, if they can just slightly better differentiate Edward's fancies from Will's real world—the onstage blurring is occasionally well-justified but at other times jarring, as when Will's wife Josephine (Krystal Joy Brown) seems to be conversing with the mermaid Edward conjures up."
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Kris Vire

ShowBizChicago - Highly Recommended

"...What becomes of Big Fish’s future is largely out of the hands of these creative geniuses hands and will become more of a marketing issue. Yes, Big Fish certainly has its followers but not enough to make the show a long-term box office smash. Thus it will be with the how the show is marketed to the masses that will ultimately foretell the ending. If I had a crystal ball like the witch in Edward’s first foreshadowing tale, I would say……”Hello Tony award!!”"

Michael J. Roberts

Chicago Theatre Addict - Recommended

"...Excellent moments pepper the first act, including a beautiful number between Edward and Sandra when they first lock eyes, “Time Stops.” In fact, Lippa’s best contributions are the quiet, introspective moments. Despite all the spectacle (though I think the creative team could go much further with the fantastical elements), the most spine-chilling moment takes place when Baldwin sings a simple song to her dying husband, “I Don’t Need a Roof.” The reason it works? It’s excellent storytelling."
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Robert Bullen

Chicago On the Aisle - Recommended

"...At its best, when Lippa's songs touch on universal human truths of love, loss and identity, "Big Fish" seems like a winner, and one can understand why Stroman emphasizes the everyman yearnings at this musical's heart every chance she gets."
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Nancy Malitz

Stage and Cinema - Somewhat Recommended

"...At its best, the musical ratifies the film’s credo—that art is the lie that tells the truth. As is, however, it mistakes the package for the present, over-illustrating a plot that needs a heart."
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Lawrence Bommer

Splash Magazine - Somewhat Recommended

"...So is it worth seeing? Yes and no. The stage version isn't terrible and they clearly put a lot of time and effort into it. But it's not until the last half hour that the show succeeds in finally becoming as good, if not better, than the movie version. Big Fish had to be done live on stage because Edward's stories are "larger than life". They are theatrical events in and of themselves and putting that on stage amplifies that to a degree. Theatre after all is about the art of great story telling."
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Justin LeClaire

ChicagoCritic - Somewhat Recommended

"...I think for Big Fish to be a hit on Broadway, it needs to consider casting stronger singers; play Edward with more warmth, charm and heart. I’d also cut some scenes and songs to give the show a more streamlined flow. The ending needs to be re-thought and tightened. The eye-popping visuals and the costumes and choreography are the best elements of the show. Now, re-focus the book and make Edward a loveable rascal and this show could swim with other Broadway big fish. There is the making of a show here."
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Tom Williams

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Somewhat Recommended

"...Let's start at the end. The last thirty minutes tenderly showcases the stories making up one man's life. The pre-finale is a sweet revisit of characters that Norbert Leo Butz (Ed Bloom) danced and sang with in his early years, also known as Act 1. The reunion has the right amount of schmaltz with Butz reconnecting with loved ones. Butz and Bobby Steggert (Will) bond over the song "What's Next." The contrite Steggert finally becomes his father's son and starts telling colorful tales. The connectivity is a lovely ending to a long fishing trip."
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Katy Walsh

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...This is a story about "dreaming big" and the power of family, with a lot of laughs, some wonderful songs ; "Time Stops", "What's Next", "How It Ends" ( this section of the show is one that needs at least three tissues- I used four, thanks to the lady who came prepared) and "I Don't Need Roof", to name a few. The songs are a part of telling the story- and what a story- filled with heart, humor and imagination presented by an energetic, spirited cast from mermaid to friendly ogre and even a werewolf and witch."
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...A great deal of this show's success rests with the smart casting of multiple Tony Award-winner Norbert Leo Butz as Edward Bloom. His youthful character, boundless energy and sheer likability is the essence of this production. His scenes with lovely Kate Baldwin as Sandra, the love of his life, are honest and profoundly perfect. Butz is touching and compassionate in his scenes with little Zachary Unger as young Will, especially in their duet, "Fight the Dragons." And with Broadway's Bobby Steggert as older Will, Butz forms a partnership that's strong and truthful. Steggert handsomely evolves before our eyes as he discovers the mysteries and motivation behind his father's tall tales, right up to the final number, "What's Next?""
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...The "Big Fish" director and choreographer is Susan Stroman of "The Producers" fame. Stroman has created one dazzling number after another to bring Edward Bloom's storytelling to magical life, whether the scene is a circus, a fantastical forest, interaction with a giant, or being swallowed by a huge Alabama catfish. Each number is a brilliant display of the theater arts-costumes, dance, lighting, and singing. The forest piece is a stunner, with a chorus of ballet dancers morphing into tree branches and roots. Water is an ongoing theme and the front of the stage is converted into a ripple river through the skillful using of lighting, with a mermaid occasionally popping up."

Dan Zeff

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