When a Boy’s Wish Magically Becomes True

Although retired since 2014, I still relish opportunities to teach, write, and share opinions.
Big: The Musical Is now on stage at the Bristol Riverside 
Theatre until April 14, 2024. 
Big: The Musical is a 1996 musical retelling of the beloved Tom Hanks classic film from 1988. In the 1988 film, a wish to “Be Big”  turns twelve-year-old Josh Baskin into a thirty-year-old man. The only problem is his body is grown, while his mind remains a boy’s mind. One iconic scene in the film has Tom Hanks as Kid Josh in an adult body playing a floor-sized piano by dancing on it. Amazingly, the production at the Bristol Riverside Theatre has such an item. If memory serves, a facsimile toy had been available for sale many years ago either from famed toy store F.A.O. Schwartz, or Hammacher Schlemmer. Maybe it’s one of those, or made for the musical.
Bristol’s production of Big: The Musical is colorful, magical, and altogether gripping, as it navigates the fun of a wish come through tempered by practical realities. With engaging songs such as “Talk To Her,” “I Want To Go Home,” and “Coffee, Black,” allied with outstanding choreography, this production of Big: The Musical is a must-see. 
Charles Osborne is the adult Josh Baskin. He is the star of the show. He sings, he dances, he acts so well that the audience believes his fear, wonder, and delight as he discovers an adult world. As Josh’s love interest, Erika Strasburg as Susan is outstanding, a true foil for Josh. Susan is introduced as an amoral executive at the MacMillan Toy Company who is soon charmed by Josh’s boyish candor, and eventually falls in love with him. Another outstanding actor is Keith Lee Grant as toy store owner Mr. MacMillan. He dances, prances, sings, and cavorts about the stage with grace and unassuming ease in the role of the elder CEO. The two child actors display immense talent as well. Kalel Carrerra is Billy, young  Josh’s friend, who appears throughout the musical. He is so talented now, he may someday be a star. As Young Josh, Remi Tuckman is outstanding. He has amazing acting talent, as well as having innate theatrical savvy. This young man may also have an acting career before him. 
As adult Josh rises through the ranks at MacMillan Toy Company, and his ideas are successful, we see that Susan has moved in with Josh, and their sexual relationship is unmistakably established, which, of course, presents the question of the propriety of a boy, just celebrating his thirteenth birthday, having a sexual relationship with a woman aged 33. At one point, Susan mentions the moral conundrum she’s in, but it is soon resolved, as Josh is able to find the magical clockwork genie and reverse the spell, becoming thirteen again, while in front of Susan! Handily, Billy has arranged for Josh’s broken-hearted mom to be there as well, and the musical closes with young Josh once again safely in the arms of his mom. 
Do see Big: The Musical for great dancing, singing, heartfelt charm, and an altogether enjoyable time experiencing the joy live theatre offers.
Book by John Weidman | Music by David Shire | Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr.
Director: Ken Kaissar
Choreographer: Stephen Casey
Musical Director: Douglass Lutz
Scenic Design: Justin and Christopher Swader
Lighting Design: Matthew Weisgable
Assistant Lighting Design: Sasha Finley
Costume Design: Linda Bee Stockton
Sound Design: Ryk Lewis
For further information, and to buy tickets for this production, and the next productions One Night In Memphis (May 1-5), and The Second City: Comedian Rhapsody (May 14-June 2, 2024), visit 

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