Casting Underway for Big National Tour

News   Casting Underway for Big National Tour Leads reportedly have chosen for the national tour of Big, but producers are keeping names under wraps while contract negotiations are underway.

Leads reportedly have chosen for the national tour of Big, but producers are keeping names under wraps while contract negotiations are underway.

The 1996 Broadway musical is planning a tour despite the fact that it closed, expensively, after a six-month run.

Beth Smith, of PACE Theatrical Group, told Playbill On-Line (June 27) contract negotiations had just begun and that names would be likely be released sometime the week of July 7. In early June, Smith had said, "Some Broadway cast-members are interested in reprising their roles, but we won't really know for a couple more weeks."

The authors of the musical, John Weidman, David Shire and Richard Maltby Jr., are rewriting the show for a 40-week national tour that will launch Sept. 23 in Wilmington, DE. At the helm is Eric D. Schaeffer, who directed the well-received "Encores!" staged reading of Sweet Adeline.

The show, with a score by David Shire and Richard Maltby Jr. and a book by John Weidman, closed on Broadway in October 1996 after a disappointing 193-performance run, losing its $10.3 million investment. Schaeffer met with the creative team March 10 to begin rewriting, or, what composer Shire termed "unwriting." Shire told Playbill On-Line that the team is "going back to an earlier conception" of the show, "a simpler way of doing things," that will include some earlier versions of some of the songs.

Asked whether the intimate, emotional song "Stop, Time" was being moved out of the shopping mall setting of the Broadway production, Shire said, "one would hope so."

The musical is based on the 1988 Tom Hanks film about a 12-year-old whose wish to be "big" is magically granted -- and he suddenly finds himself in the body of a 30-year-old, trying to make his way in the world as best he can. The score included "Stop, Time," "Fun," "Stars, Stars, Stars" and other songs. The original director was Mike Ockrent.

The closing of Big prompted an unusual outpouring from Playbill On- Line members, most of whom felt the show hadn't gotten a fair shake from critics or awards voters. (The show was not nominated for the Best Musical Tony Award when two long-closed musicals were. Maltby and Shire were, however, nominated for Best Score.) To read Playbill On-Line readers' views on the show, see Playbill Members React to Big Closing Notice in Theatre News.

Here are the bookings for the tour (as of June 10), which are tentative and subject to change:

Wilmington, DE (Playhouse) Sept. 26-Oct. 5
Baltimore (Mechanic) Oct. 7-12
Atlanta (Fox) Oct. 14-19
St Louis (Fox) Oct. 21-26
Indianapolis (Murat) Oct. 28-Nov. 2
St. Paul (Ordway) Nov. 4-16
Columbus (Ohio Theatre) Nov. 18-23
Hartford, CT (Bushnell) Nov. 25-30
Hershey, PA (Hershey) Dec. 2-7
Cincinnati (Aronoff) Dec. 9-21
Pittsburgh (Heinz Hall) Dec. 23-28
Orlando, FL (Bob Carr) Dec. 30-Jan. 4, 1998
Ft. Lauderdale, FL (Broward) Jan. 6-18
St Peterburg, FL (Mahaffey) Jan. 20-25
Houston (Jones Hall) Jan. 27- Feb. 1
Denver, CO (Buell) Feb. 3-8
Costa Mesa, CA (Orange County PAC) Feb. 10-15
Seattle (Paramount) Feb. 17-March 1
Portland, OR (Civic Theatre) March 3-8

Buffalo (Shea's) March 17-22
Rochester (Eastman Theatre) March 24-29
Louisvillle, KY (Kentucky Center for the Arts) March 31-April 5
April 7-12
Syracuse, NY (Civic Center) / Jacksonville, FL (Moran): April 14-19
Nashville, TN (Tennessee PAC) April 21-26
San Antonio, TX (Majestic) April 28-May 3
Tempe AR (Gammage) May 5-10
New Orleans (Saenger) May 12-17
19-24
Green Bay (Weidner) May 26-31
Kansas City (Music Hall) June 2-7
Peoria, IL (Civic) / Omaha, NE (Music Hall): June 9-14
Dallas (Music Hall) June 16-28

-- By Robert Viagas and David Lefkowitz

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