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Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012

‘Big’ Musical Heads to First Stage Children’s Theater

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Penny Marshall’s 1988 film Big was a huge success for everyone involved. Beginning next week, First Stage Children’s Theater looks to find similarly “big” success with the little ones.

The story of a child who wishes himself into sudden adulthood—and promptly becomes an executive at a toy company—captured the hearts and imaginations of audiences. It's become a cinematic classic recognized for helping to make Tom Hanks a lasting star in Hollywood. Eight years after the film, David Shire, Richard Maltby Jr. and John Weidman turned the story into a Broadway musical. But the show closed the same year it opened, after only 193 performances.

A hugely popular, heartwarming drama on the silver screen becomes a forgotten musical in one of the most sentimental places on Earth. What happened? Maybe eight years wasn't long enough to gather proper distance from the popular memory of the film. Or maybe the Broadway musical was trying to reach the wrong audiences. Enter First Stage Children's Theater. Sixteen years after the show closed on Broadway, First Stage is set to open its production of the Shire, Maltby and Weidman musical for audiences too young to remember the film or even the year the musical bombed.

Ultimately, Big is just a really fun story. This production should be hugely enjoyable for kids unfamiliar with the story and for parents who still remember Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia dancing on a giant piano in the late ’80s.

First Stage's production of Big runs Oct. 19-Nov. 11 at the Marcus Center's Todd Wehr Theater. For ticket reservations, call 414-273-7206.

 

Theater Happenings

The Milwaukee Rep opens The Diary of Anne Frank next week. James Pickering, Jonathan Gillard Daly, Lee Ernst and Deborah Staples are among the stars in this remarkable story. The production runs Oct. 23-Dec. 2 at the Quadracci Powerhouse. For ticket reservations, call 414-224-9490.

Off the Wall Theatre presents what is likely to be a pleasantly uncomfortable evening with a group of dodgy men as it presents Trainspotting Oct. 25-Nov. 4 in the cozy space of its studio theater, located at 127 E. Wells St. For ticket reservations, call 414-327-3552.