Hunting Hills students are ready to present their latest theatrical production Big – the Musical to local audiences with performances starting March 11th at the Memorial Centre.
The show – which is based on the popular Tom Hanks movie of the same name that hit the silver screen back in 1988 – includes a number of catchy tunes as well, and promises to be an engaging and thoroughly entertaining program for the entire family, said director Bill Jacobsen. The film is focused on a boy by the name of Josh Baskin who makes a wish to be big, and then ages to adulthood overnight.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Hanks and co-star Robert Loggia dance on a foot-operated electronic floor keyboard in a department store, and Jacobsen said that’s an enduring scene that many folks recall, even if they don’t remember what movie they saw it in.
“That’s the scene that everybody remembers.”
Jacobsen said it seemed a good time to take on something of a more fun, light-hearted nature after the last few productions the school has presented, some of which have been a bit on the more intense side.
“We felt it was time to do something that was a little less mature – something that hearkens back to more of a family show,” he explained. That said, Jacobsen pointed out that he and the cast and crew have also ensured the major themes of Big do indeed shine through as well.
“That growing up isn’t all the freedom and the joy that sometimes kids think it is,” he said. “There are negatives, and of course responsibilities that go along with it.
“It’s also a really strong story about family love.”
Of course, the music is a powerful part of the show. “The music is incredibly fun – it’s very infectious and very catchy. And it’s a very modern sounding musical with some great dance numbers in it.”
After the successful run of the film in the late 1980s, the story was transformed into a stage musical in 1996.
Directed by Mike Ockrent, and choreographed by Susan Stroman, it opened on April 28th, 1996 and closed on Oct. 13th, 1996, after 193 performances. It was also later shaped into a national tour production, which Jacobsen noted ended up being a remarkable success. “That’s the version we are using – the one that was done on the national tour.
“It’s a little tighter and a bit faster moving than the original one on Broadway,” he said. “The show has such great energy, so I think people will walk away with a great, positive feeling after seeing it.”
Meanwhile, 70 students are involved with the production at Hunting Hills.
Jacobsen finds his role of guiding the students along through a show’s development an extremely fulfilling one. He also enjoys the collaborative nature of building a production from the ground up, adding that organization from the get-go is key to having everything come together as opening night approaches.
“I think it comes together at the end if you do the work at the start.”
Meanwhile, performances continue through March 19th. Curtain is 7 p.m.
“You don’t need to have seen the film to enjoy the musical, and when’s the next time you are going to see some people dance on a 16-foot floor piano?”
Tickets are $15 for students, children and seniors and $20 for adults. There are also dinner theatre shows on March 11th-12th. March 17th is ‘cheap night’ when tickets are $12.
Tickets are available at www.huntinghills.rdpsd.ab.ca or at the door.