Datebook: Community Players Reels In 'Big Fish' | WGLT

Datebook: Community Players Reels In 'Big Fish'

Mar 12, 2020

Editor's note: Due to the updated COVID-19 guidance issued by Gov. JB Pritzker and the State of Illinois, the Community Players Theater will be doing the following regarding "Big Fish" performances:

The theater will be holding the Friday, March 13, and Saturday, March 14, performances for those who have already purchased tickets. No additional sales or exchange for "Big Fish" tickets either online, call in, or walk in will be sold in order to help prevent community transmission of the disease.

The following "Big Fish" performances are canceled:

  • Sunday, March 15
  • Friday, March 20
  • Saturday, March 21
  • Sunday, March 22
  • Friday, March 27
  • Saturday, March 28
  • Sunday, March 29

Any patrons who have purchased tickets for a canceled performance may contact the box office and exchange those tickets for another show in our current season.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Edward Bloom is a traveling salesman who lives life to the fullest—and then some—in “Big Fish.”  

Community Players in Bloomington is staging the musical that tackles family relationships and the stories that we use to define our identities. The show opens March 13 and runs through March 29. 

With music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and a book by John August, “Big Fish” has had a couple of previous incarnations before it became a Broadway musical. First came the acclaimed novel by Daniel Wallace, followed by a film by Tim Burton. The Community Players production is directed by Scott Myers, who says “Big Fish” fits in well with the selection of plays produced by the theater this season.

Director Scott Myers is a fan of the original book, the movie version and the Broadway musical version of "Big Fish."
Credit Laura Kennedy / WGLT

“It’s really important for Community Players to have a nice balance of shows. And this particular show is a very family-oriented, fun for all ages kind of show.  

“Big Fish” features the charismatic character of Edward Bloom, whose impossible stories of his epic adventures at first excite, then eventually frustrate his son, Will. As Edward’s final chapter approaches, Will searches for the man behind the myth, trying to find the truth hidden within his father’s tall tales.    

As a traveling salesman, Edward misses many of the everyday events of his son’s life. To make up for that, Edward gets creative. 

“So Edward decides to share stories about himself with his son,” Myers said. “That way there’s a legacy for him, something for him to be proud of. So, he starts telling these very, very extravagant tall tales, fish tales some might say. As a young boy, Will is entranced by those stories. As he gets older, he wonders if these things happened or not.”

There’s something for everyone in “Big Fish,” Myers said. 

“Whoever comes to see this show, I’ll be very surprised if you don’t find something you can relate to. We have all had opportunities to have relationships, friendships that last a lifetime, blessed in some cases to have families, to have children, to have courtships. All of these things come into play in the show of “Big Fish.” 

With the fanciful nature of Edward’s storytelling—there's Wild West Shows, a circus, witches and mermaids—there's ample demands on the production crew to bring it all to life.

Moveable set pieces are key to helping tell the story of "Big Fish."
Credit Laura Kennedy / WGLT

“We have about 150 pieces of costumes and props in this show,” said Myers. “Our scenery has to change quickly. We have an open kind of set because this is a very dance-oriented show. So, we need the space on our stage.” 

“Here at Community Players, it's a wonderful stage to work with. However, we don’t have a lot of side wings where you can put props and bits of set along the side like some theaters can. So, we have to be a little bit creative and build sets that are very moveable. And we use our audience’s imagination, too.” 

The demands of “Big Fish” make it a learning experience for everyone involved, said Myers. So, included with his job as director is helping his cast find the fun in their work. 

“We talked right from the beginning that this is an ensemble group. You want to make sure that everyone is comfortable, that they know they are a vital part of this production, and just have fun during rehearsals.” 

His directing mantra: “Make it light, make it fun, and don’t be a taskmaster!” 

“Big Fish” opens this weekend and runs through March 29 at Community Players in Bloomington.

  

 

People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.