I’m a 90s kid and I grew up with all the cliche 90s things you could think of. The Spice Girls, choker necklaces and Beanie Babies are among my favourite things (Maria hasn’t got anything on me). However, I still have a strong appreciation for the 1980s, a decade of crazy style, bold music and . . . shoulder pads . . . OK, it wasn’t all great. This was a decade that saw icons like Madonna and Michael Jackson influence the world and amongst these cultural landmarks is the Tom Hanks classic, ’Big’. For those who have never seen/ heard of ‘Big’, where on earth have you been? It tells the story of Josh Baskin, a 12 year old boy from New York, who makes a wish on a dodgy carnival machine, hoping he could be big. The next day he wakes in a grown up body and the story follows Josh as he tries to navigate adulthood. It’s an endearing story that has a special place in my heart so I was ecstatic to be invited to the press night of ‘Big The Musical’ at Theatre Royal Plymouth. After watching the musical adaptation, I believe there are three clear strengths to the show.
Firstly, the strongest element about this production is the truly superb casting. Admittedly, I walked into the theatre with a touch of scepticism as it’s a mammoth challenge to try to come close to Tom Hanks. However, I was thrilled to be proved wrong by Jay McGuiness’ vulnerable, charming and funny portrayal of Josh. McGuiness is supported by Diana Vickers, Jessica Martin and Gary Wilmot, all industry powerhouses and all of whom played their characters with energy and truth.
‘Big’ is also packed to the punch with vibrant style and this is mainly credit to Simon Higlett’s set and costume design. Higlett’s modern and versatile set design made all scene changes seamless and provided a bold backdrop whilst the fun costumes showed off the good, bad and ugly of the 80s. These elements emphasised the infectious joy of the show and will make you want to bring perms back with sass. Hey, it could work right?
Thirdly, if you’re a fan of the film, then you’ll be overjoyed when the infamous giant piano arrives on the scene. For what must’ve been a challenging sequence to learn, Wilmot and McGuiness jumped the keys with ease and recreated a wonderful, heartwarming scene with joy.
Don’t get me wrong, this show is far from perfect. Although David Shire’s music and Richard Maltby’s lyrics are pleasant, the songs can be very vanilla and the plot is quite disjointed. However, it’s a show marketed for the kid in all of us and, true to their word, they deliver a night full of charm and big fun!
All together now! Shimmy shimmy coco pop, shimmy shimmy rock, I met a girlfriend a triscuit . . .
5-12th 2016 November at Theatre Royal Plymouth & 7 Dec – 7 Jan 2017 at Bord Gais Energy Theatre
*All views expressed are my own
**Photo credits to Theatre Royal Plymouth