‘Big Fish’ is a sparkling hit for Lamb’s Players


Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

Special to the Village News

Did ya ever hear about the one that got away? Or that old song “You Gotta Have Heart”?  Both cut to the core of the current production called “Big Fish” by the Lamb’s Players in Coronado.

The story is centered around the relationship between father and son. And while the timing was ideal for Father’s Day, actually the appeal of this warm, fuzzy story is ideal for any day. Did I mention this is a musical? It is filled with wonderful, lyrical stories set to fully orchestrated music that pulls the audience along Edward Bloom’s journey through life.

Edward Bloom is the father, played by Brandon Maier. A good guy who tries to always do the right thing. From high school through marriage and along life’s way, Maier exposes Edward’s humanity without being sappy. His voice is rich, true, and clear. Filled with love and compassion wrapped around sweet song, we wander through the mythic wonders of his life.

However, actually, the story is told from the son’s point of view, young Will Bloom (Gavin August). Will doesn’t understand why his dad travels so much because he never makes it home in time for his ball games. Will represents kids everywhere when he accuses his dad of not caring. August plays every kid. And as the story unfolds, August plays multiple kid-parts in this piece. He is so believable as a kid we must remember he is one and not a short adult. A very talented lad.

As time passes, Will Bloom (Michael Cusimano) grows up and so does his lilting tenor voice. Cusimano plays the troubled, doubtful adult son so well it is easy to be carried away by his disappointed anger toward his dad, Edward.

Kelsey Venter plays a remarkable Sandra Bloom and Caitie Grady once again proves her merit as Will’s French wife, Josephine. Her performance is poignant. Megan Carmitchel plays Edward’s cute, high school sweetheart.

The others in the ensemble cast include John Rosen primarily as Dr. Bennett although he really sparkles as the circus impresario, Amos Calloway.

Jack French captures the essence of Karl the giant; Mary Jo Duggan is a lovely mermaid aka girl in the water, along with Anise Ritchie, the enchanting witch.  Jordan Miller as Don Price is adversarial along with his side kick Zackery Price played by Charles Evans, Jr.

Deborah Smyth directs this lovely tale with perfect timing – allowing the personalities to unfold and tell their story. She has a gift for plucking from their house company just the right persons for each character. Not to be overlooked is the great band led by conductor Andy Ingersol on keyboard, Diana Elledge – cello, Rick Ogden – guitar, David Rumley – percussion, Oliver Shirley – bass, and Corrie Bunnel – violin. As for the house crew of professionals we are reminded how great they are because the show runs seamlessly transitioning from scene to scene without a hiccup.

The original story was written by Daniel Wallace, “Big Fish, A Novel of Mythic Proportions”. Writer and professor at Chapel Hill, N.C.,  Wallace’s book was rewritten for a Tim Burton film in 2011 and two years later by John August with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa for the theatre.

As so many of their productions seem to be, “Big Fish” is another smash hit for Lamb’s Players. Performances are Tuesday – Sunday, running until July 30. Get tickets now so you do not miss this show. Bring a hankie. Box office (619) 437-6000 or www.LambsPlayers.org.

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