The news of Frasier star, Kelsey Grammer, leading the cast of Big Fish the Musical in London was met with excitement by many. Directed by Nigel Harman, the show is seeing out 2017 at The Other Palace and is certainly an enchanting piece that inspires an emotional response.
What is it to really know your own father? Meet Edward Bloom – an ordinary man, and an extraordinary father. He has always told his son tall tales filled with beauty, love and imagination but when his son confronts him about what is truth and what is fiction, they go on a life-affirming journey that will change them forever.
There are a lot of things going for this production of Big Fish. It has feeling from the start and you imagine that any generation can relate to elements of the show. Liam Steel’s imaginative choreography, as playful and joyous as the story, is particularly apparent in the circus scenes and the staging of the act one finale is delightful.
Don’t be fooled by the set’s simplistic first look – it’s a functional and clever setup that sustains Harman’s vision. A constant clinical feel of the hospital, even in the story, gives extra depth to this piece and helps to question the reality of Bloom’s dreams. The props and costumes all weave into the theme. It’s seamless and ingenious on Harman’s part.
Lippa’s score is lovely. I always struggle to find his work overly memorable but the music worked well within the show. It takes a little while to get going musically, but overall it’s a nice piece even if you don’t leave the theatre humming any of the tunes.
Kelsey Grammer brought a charming Edward Bloom to the stage. His acting is unquestionably on point. You can tell he has an affinity with the character and delivers lines with humorous wit time and again. There’s some minor shaky vocal moments but he’s great for the role.
The Other Palace has been a brilliant platform for Jamie Muscato’s diverse repertoire of characters and his performance as the Story Edward in Big Fish is just another triumph. He has the likeability factor that was needed within the stories as you begin to learn Bloom’s reason for telling them. There’s nice vocal performances from Laura Baldwin (Story Sandra) and Matthew Seadon-Young (Will) along with a multitude of strength within the rest of the supporting cast.
This is definitely one to bring tissues to, but the heart-warmingly heart-breaking nature of this musical is undeniable. You may have booked this show for Kelsey, who does deliver, but you’re also greeted with a playful yet moving show that many will struggle not to feel for.
Limited tickets are still available from The Other Palace here.
Photo credit: Tristram Kenton