The Theatreguide.London Review
Dominion Theatre Autumn 2019
I say this without
irony or judgement: some people go to the theatre for exciting new
experiences and some want the comfort of assured, familiar,
It is to the second
group that I
The 1996 stage musical
based on the 1988 Tom Hanks
film about a twelve-year-old boy who finds himself in a
thirty-year-old body failed on Broadway. But it retains the plot and
much of the charm of the film, so audiences can come in knowing
exactly what they're going to get and leave happily having got it.
in the film, young Josh makes an impulsive wish and wakes up as an
adult. Once among adults his boyish judgements are taken as clever,
his boyish confusions as charm, and he finds himself an executive in
a toy company, inspiring the personal interest of a female exec.
as exciting as his new world is, he misses home, mother and the
simplicity of a child's life.
Composer David Shire and
Richard Maltby started writing musicals in the 1950s, and they are
consummate professionals. There isn't a dud in the entire score, but
then again there isn't much that you'll find memorable.
best song in the show, Stop Time, a mother's lament about the mixed
feelings of watching a child grow up, is really peripheral to the
And the best musical number is taken straight from the movie, as Josh and the toy company head play Chopsticks by dancing on a giant keyboard. (Notably it is that number that gets a reprise in the post-curtain-calls encore and what you are likely to go out humming.)
Jay McGuiness brings
the right level of boyish charm to the
role of grown-up Josh. You won't for a minute believe he's a
twelve-year-old in a grown-up body (as Tom Hanks was able to
suggest), but you will like the character and wish him a happy
Kimberly Walsh combines
sexiness with a warmth that surprises
the character herself, and Matthew Kelly plays the boss with the
effortless ease of an old pro.
Given too little to do
mother, Wendi Peters makes the most of her one big song.
things to criticise. Director Morgan Young's choreography is
undistinguished, and even the big chorus dance sequences never catch
What passes for a plot
complication – the jealousy and
interference of a rival toy company executive – just disappears,
along with the character, early in Act Two.
And I do have to say
the iconic Chopsticks dance, fun as it is, is just a bit spoiled when
the giant piano keys light up as they are supposedly danced on,
making it all too obvious that the dancers' feet aren't even coming
But as I said, Big is not intended for people like me who are inclined to judge and criticise. It is for those who want an unchallenging and guaranteed Good Night Out, and it delivers that.
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