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"A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal."
Following in the footsteps of Les Miserables, in starting as a book and then going on to be adapted for stage and film, Big Fish seems to be doing the same thing, except the order of adaptations is switched around a bit. It started as a book, penned by Daniel Wallace, and then went on to be made into a movie directed by Tim Burton, and now it's becoming a musical, bound for Broadway.
The film was released in 2003 and was set up as a story within a story, or rather, several stories within a story, as the film focused on the life of Edward Bloom (Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor), a traveling salesman who loved to tell a good story, and whose tales were a bit too embellished for the liking of his skeptical son (Billy Crudup). Told through flashbacks, the movie takes us through Blooms colorful versions of the more memorable moments of his life, including how he met his wife and the other people whose paths he crossed. Thinking back to the film, which - in the grand tradition of Tim Burton - is imaginative, fantastical, a little bit strange and emotional, particularly at the end, it seems likely to lend itself well to a musical. And it looks like we'll find out one way or the other next Fall.
EW says Big Fish is headed to Broadway with a planned opening at the Neil Simon Theatre this October. Ahead of that, the show will run for five weeks for a limited engagement at Chicago's Oriental Theater, beginning in April.
Set to play the lead role of Edward Bloom is Norbert Leo Butz, who knows a thing or two about feature films that have gotten the Broadway treatment, having won a Tony award for his role in Catch Me If You Can. Prior to that, he took over the role of Roger in Rent when Adam Pascal left the show. And if you happen to own the Wicked soundtrack, you've heard him singing "Dancing Through Life" (and other songs), as he was the original Fiyero in the 2003 Broadway musical. Bobby Steggert will play Bloom's son and Kate Baldwin will play Sandra (Bloom's wife).
Directing and choreographing the musical is Susan Stroman, who has five Tony Awards to her name and whose credits include Contact and The Producers. Andrew Lippa is doing the music and lyrics, and the book is written by John August, who's well familiar with the story, having written the screenplay for Burton's adaptation of the novel. So it certainly sounds like the musical is in capable hands. It'll be exciting to see how it does when it opens.
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