by Terrance Mc Arthur
Three weeks ago, I didn’t even know there was ever a Broadway musical based on the Daniel Wallace novel and the Tim Burton film Big Fish. Now, not only do I know it exists, I have seen it…….in Tulare, at the Encore Theatre through July 18.
It’s a story about stories, the life of Edward Bloom (Mike Hamilton), a traveling salesman, told in the way he sees his truth, disguised as a series of tall tales. His son, Will (Michael Newman), wants to separate the fact from the fiction, which isn’t an easy thing to do; even the giant, the mermaid, the witch, the Asian assassin, and the dancing elephants (There are three…count them…THREE dancing elephants on a teeny-tiny stage! Take THAT, Dan Pessano!) are part of the truth in an odd way.
Was he a sports hero who saved his home town…twice? Was he a war hero (and which war was it, anyway?). Did he know how he would die?…..or was it all lies?
Hamilton is big and hearty as Edward, reminiscent of Fred Thompson of Law & Order and the U. S. Senate and a taller Tom Bosley of Happy Days. He seems at ease, telling truthful lies, not afraid to appear middle-aged. Tyler Jarrett plays Edward as a young man, and he’s probably a better singer than Ewan McGregor, who played the part in the movie version.
Susan Harrell exudes stage experience and confidence as the mature version of Edward’s wife, Sandra (Jessica Lange in the movie). Leslie Harrison is winning and winsome as the younger Sandra. Matt Weaver is brash and breezy (and occasionally hairy) as Amos, the circus owner. Tim Reveles is imposing and wise as Karl, the giant, thanks to a pair of stilts. Susan Burley leads the band and doubles as a friendly mermaid (Why not?) Costumes are great, the music by the songwriter of The Addams Family Musical haunts you, and it’s worth the trip to Tulare to see this.
The Encore Theatre is a complex of additions to what was once an abandoned house. It holds 100 people in cabaret seating, with snacks like cake, nachos, popcorn, and sodas available before the show and at intermission. It is truly a community theatre, supported by the people and businesses of the area; the program has 30 pages devoted to advertising. The Encore Theatre is at 324 S. N Street in Tulare. Call 559-686-1300 for tickets and information. Give Tulare’s Encore Theatre a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Check out KRL’s profile on Encore Theatre Co. up this week.
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