Music by David Shire, Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Book by John Weidman
Theatre Under the Stars
July 14-August 20
604-257-0366 or online www.tuts.bc.ca
Big: The Musical at Theatre
Under the Stars has almost all the ingredients for a great musical.
The one it lacks is great music.
Adapted from the movie that made Tom Hanks famous, the show has
a delicious premise. Thirteen-year-old Josh Baskin wants desperately
to be “big” so his parents will no longer bug him and
he can pursue girls with breasts. He magically gets his wish but
awkwardly remains a kid inside his man’s body. Subsequently,
he shows some adults the importance of embracing their inner kid.
He also learns that growing up so fast may not be all it’s
cracked up to be.
The gawky, spinny kid inside the man provides delightful opportunities
for comic acting and dancing. Peter Jorgensen, starring as big Josh,
has the charm and comic chops, a relaxed elasticity and all the
moves. He’s a pleasure to watch. The dance Josh does on a
large keyboard with his boss, Mr. Macmillan (Gordon Doerkson in
a wonderful performance), is a highlight of the show.
When he demonstrates to the uptight suits at the Macmillan Toy
Company (“Don’t play with that—it’s a toy!”)
the liberating joys of a youthful, naïve embrace of life, Josh
provides opportunity for a couple of spectacular production numbers.
These are typically a strength of TUTS shows and here director Shel
Piercy and choreographer Viktoria Langton harness the energy and
enthusiasm of the large, young cast to fine effect.
As the love interest, Susan, the sophisticated uptown toy company
exec whose heart is melted by Josh’s sweet goofiness, Lalainia
Lindbjerg is simply sensational. She has genuine Broadway musical
star quality: a beautiful, effortless voice and presence to burn.
And she’s gorgeous.
There’s real chemistry in her scenes with Jorgensen. Their
funny first date ends at Josh’s apartment, a giant kid’s
room, in a series of lovely comic misunderstandings. When he asks
if she wants to play games, Susan thinks he means sex. When she
says she planned to spend the night with him, he thinks she means
a sleepover. When he says, “I gotta be on top,” he means
the upper bunk bed. She also has by far the best and funniest song
in the show, “My Secretary’s in Love.”
But really good songs are sorely lacking in Big.
Kimberly Page does a nice job as Josh’s mother, singing about
the poignancy of watching one’s child grow up. Sweet-voiced
Lucas Testini as little Josh has a decent number about wanting to
know. Josh’s precocious friend Billy (Doran Satanove) leads
the neighborhood kids in a lively rap.
Musical director Wendy Bross Stuart and her 18-piece orchestra
do what they can with David Shire’s mostly clunky score. But
the music in Big: The Musical
just doesn’t come up big.