Big The Musical - Review
There are very few people who haven’t seen and loved the movie Big. The story of twelve year old Josh who finds a fairground Zorro, wishes to be big and wakes up as Tom Hanks, and then has to find that same Zorro if he ever wants to be a child again. So when we heard they were opening a musical we almost burst with excitement (it has had short runs in the past on Broadway and in other parts of the UK but not in the West End). It’s a simple plot that takes you through so many parts of adult life seen with innocent eyes and it makes you wonder if this is how adult life really should be. Being based on an 80’s movie the show is super cheesy but it knows that and plays to its strengths.
Rather than waking up as Tom Hanks he wakes up as Jay McGuiness and we’re pleased he does. While he struggled with some of the bigger songs he brings a naivety and innocence to the role and his childish excitement at everything in the adult world is a joy to see. The show juxtaposes his youthful exuberance against the cynicism of the adults he encounters that the toy shop owner George MacMillan wants to overcome. It’s not subtle but it works.
The casting of Kimberly Walsh as the hard-nosed executive was unexpected being so different to her previous roles but she proved herself to be the perfect choice. Her acting was excellent and you see her character’s progression through the show as she falls for Josh’s charm. Her voice was so much more mature and controlled than in her Girls Aloud days and she’s captivating from her first entrance. For us she was the star of the show.
We have to mention Jamie O’Connor as young Josh and Jobe Hart as his best friend Billy who both gave stellar performances opening the show in excellent form.
The iconic “foot keyboard” scene from the movie is ready made for musical theatre and they perfectly recreate this with the keys along the front of the stage. It’s a great early scene but the standout moments came from the bigger songs which had full cast involvement. The choreography was excellent and the energy bursts off the stage. Like the rest of the show it’s cheerful and youthful.
The stage has a semi-circular wall set on a revolve (maybe they’re nostalgic for the old Les Mis stage?) with numerous digital displays being used on it. These displays along with the (at times extravagant) set are bright and colourful and complement the shows exuberance.
We have to mention that this went old school (it was written in the 90’s so…) and started with an overture which we were so pleased by – we love an overture to get you excited for what’s to come which we miss in new musicals!
This is a feel good show with an excellent high-energy cast and the only downside is that it has such a short run. We thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this production. We give this a 4 Laura Michelle-Kelly star rating. Tickets can be bought here: https://www.nederlander.co.uk/whats-on/big/dates