Review: BIG THE MUSICAL at the Bord Gais
We are all familiar with the BIG story from the hit 1988 movie starring Tom Hanks. The musical adaptation first appeared on Broadway in the 1990s, and this revival, a Theatre Royal Plymouth Production, plays Dublin over Christmas in advance of a trip to the West End.
Twelve-year-old Josh Baskin is living in suburbia, suffering from his first major crush on a girl, and suffocated by his overly affectionate mother. He wishes he was “big” on a magic fairground machine, and suddenly he is Jay McGuinness, best known from Strictly Come Dancing. McGuinness’s acting and dancing talents are top-notch, and he has plenty of charisma, but he doesn’t have a stand-out singing number here.
Susan, the at-first-nasty colleague, is a beautifully written character, and gets a superb performance from golden-voiced Diana Vickers. When Josh announces to her in a romantic scene that he “gotta be on top”, and then dives for the upper bunk bed, the joke is clear for the adults, but goes over the top of the kiddies’ heads.
Simon Higlett’s design job is spectacular, with terrific use made of the revolving stage and curved tech screen backdrops, perfectly recreating 1980s suburbia. Director/choreographer Morgan Young handles the ensemble dance and movement brilliantly, with high-energy hip-hop themes, funny Christmas party moves, and a superb office dance with coffee cups. There are massive holes in the plot, like why the police investigation doesn’t develop. But who cares? This isn’t CSI. More rewarding are the holes in the air, the invisible trapdoors through which Josh disappears to become big and small again; there is plenty of magic in this expertly-staged family show.