1. It retains the film’s iconic moments
Based on the 1988 film of the same name, in which Tom Hanks plays Josh Baskin – a young boy who has his dream to become an adult fulfilled, the musical retains several of the jokes and scenes that made the original a family favourite.From the misunderstandings that arise during Josh’s first adult sleepover to the comic one-liners, fans of the film will see many of their favourite moments feature in this adaptation. What’s more: the walking piano duet, which sees Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia play ‘Heart and Soul’ by foot, and must undoubtedly be the film’s most famous scene, is transformed into an even larger musical number for the stage. By incorporating the most successful elements of the film into the show, the musical creates a nostalgic experience for members of the audience who have seen its cinematic counterpart, whilst providing those who are not familiar with the film with a truthful adaptation.
2. You can pretend it’s the 80’s again
Big the Musical is full of references to the 80’s, when it is set. Think perms, varsity jackets, and pinstripe suits. Talking of suits, Susan Lawrence, played by Kimberly Walsh, wears the power suit to end all power suits. All of these references are sure to bring back fond memories for anyone who has lived through the 80’s, and even for younger generations who have seen the decade replicated in film after film. The truest mark of the time is the absence of the internet and mobile phones in the lives of the characters. In the world of the musical, children can only spread news by gossiping and they spend their days playing in the streets. It harks back to an age and time when children’s biggest problems might be their high-school crushes, whilst questioning if childhood is really that simple – letting audiences enjoy this return to the past all thewhile.
3. It’s a celebration of childhood
Despite the focus on being a ‘big’ person, suggested by the title, and the predominance of adult characters, the musical is very much preoccupied with what it means to be young. Much of the humour comes from the magically-aged Josh’s unpreparedness for the challenges of adulthood being contrasted to the celebration of his youthful outlook. Jay McGuiness’ portrayal of adult Josh’s childish enthusiasm, combined with the boyish charm encapsulated by Simon Higlett’s costume designs, ensures that the distinction between child and adult never becomes fully realised in Josh’s behaviour. McGuiness’ performance, the twinkling lights of the carnival set, and the frequent high-energy numbers led by children, all work together to create a show that highlights the joy of childhood.
4. You can see some Strictly stars
Among the many celebrities in the cast, including Matthew Kelly and Wendi Peters, are two Strictly Come Dancing stars. Aside from getting to watch these musical theatre stars in their own right, Big the Musical has the added draw of allowing audiences to see Jay McGuiness and Kimberly Walsh, two Strictly dancers, in one show. Although they did not take to the ballroom floor at the same time as each other, the two are of course alumni, and put their expertise to use when leading exuberant dance routines together. Both performers excelled on the programme, with Walsh making it to the final and McGuiness winning his series, and they continue to perform to high standards in Big The Musical, in which they take over Dominion’s stage floor.
5. It’s ultimate family fun
Though the musical does raise some difficult questions about growing up, and what people might lose in doing so, it in no way creates a negative atmosphere. In contrast, the show is largely comic, and a combination of slapstick, witty exchanges and the occasional double entendre ensures the show is suitable for children whilst being enjoyable for their parents. As Jay McGuiness explained in an interview with broadway.com, whilst “there are a lot of contemporary musicals exploring fascinating and vert dark things” this show is “not trying to do anything other than make you smile, laugh and tug on the heartstrings”. Big the Musical uses comedy and catchy songs to create an easy to watch and easy to enjoy experience.
Tickets for this show were kindly provided by London Box Office. Remember to join our Facebook group Bargain Theatre from Upper Circle to be kept up to date with the best offers from a variety of ticket providers.