Feel-good musical 'Big Fish' takes the Tower stage this weekend
“Big Fish,” the Tony Award-winning musical of big dreams, folksy ballads, and fantastical creatures, is making its Central Virginia premiere on the stage of Liberty University’s Tower Theater this weekend, presented by Alluvion Stage Company.
Set in the heart of America’s southern swamplands of Alabama, the feel-good musical tells the tale of Edward Bloom and his son, Will, who is about to get married and plans to move to New York City. The plot follows Will as he rediscovers some of the extravagant stories that his father would tell him as a child, finding out things about his father he never knew before.
Audience members will encounter medieval warriors, mermaids, and a 12-foot giant as Will retraces the stories of his father and connects with him in ways that were previously unfathomable.
Linda Cooper, Alluvion’s artistic director and chair of Liberty’s Theatre Arts Department, said she is especially excited for “Big Fish” because it brings a new style of production to Alluvion, one that is filled with intimate, down-to-earth ballads rich in story rather than flashy buoyant musical numbers.
“The music in ‘Big Fish’ is gorgeously flavored with folk and blues, so you feel as though it’s a song you have heard your entire life even though you’ve never heard it before,” Cooper said. “It has that small-town feel of Americana to it — the type of songs you hear in the backyards of homes and country churches.”
The musical will be accompanied by a live orchestra, which will be set up to look as though its members are sailing in a riverboat. One of the main challenges of performing the musical in the Tower Theater, Cooper said, is creating the intimate feel of rural Alabama on a bigger stage.
In all, there are 22 cast members and 14 crew members who have worked to create the authentic feel that Cooper said will draw audience members into the story.
The lead actor in the musical is Liberty alumnus Michael Foster (’99), who, after receiving a music degree, went on to receive his doctorate in voice performance and literature from the University of Illinois. He starred in key roles like Gaston in the musical “Beauty and The Beast” for the Walt Disney Company and Sky Masterson in “Guys and Dolls.”
Foster’s role as Edward Bloom has brought him back to Liberty’s stage for the first time since graduating.
“It’s a great honor to be back here performing,” Foster said. “When I was studying at Liberty, we performed shows in the modest Lloyd Auditorium, so it has been spectacular to see how the program has advanced. To get to be a part of that new life in the Tower Theater is a huge privilege.”
Foster said he is excited to work with Liberty students to help them not only bolster their skills in musical theatre, but to also give them tips on how to land jobs as professional performers. Students regularly receive opportunities to earn a professional credit alongside theatre industry veterans through Alluvion, in addition to numerous academic performances. Foster also hopes to connect students with opportunities through his artist development company, The EA Group.
To purchase tickets, visit the Alluvion Stage Company website or call the Liberty University Box Office at 434-582-SEAT (7328) during weekday business hours. On the night of a performance, call the Tower Box Office at (434) 582-2085.