PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Big Fish — Who Was That Masked Dad?

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07 Oct 2013

Brad Oscar
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Out of town, the creatives discovered they had truly a family entertainment on their hands. "That was the goal. When we went to Chicago, we saw people bringing their kids, and we realized we built a show that you can take an eight-year-old to. There's nothing that's going to be bad for them. They're more ready for it than you think."

August came to the Wallace novel through a personal tragedy. "When I read it as a manuscript, I had lost my father a few years before, so I knew what that was like, but I didn't want to write about my own experience. This was a chance to write about things I knew, without having it be strictly autobiographical. So I made the narrator character, Will, my age and Edward my dad's age so I could track the time.

"If you talk to Daniel Wallace, his father is very much like Edward Bloom so there are things that are autobiographical to Daniel. He got to know his father at the end, but he really got to know him better through his friends after he died."

Brad Oscar, whom Stroman directed to a Tony nomination as Franz Liebkind, the deranged German playwright in The Producers, runs the circus in one of Bloom's elaborate head trips.

Unsurprisingly, he swears by her. "Susan is the best collaborator. She is so smart. She's one of those people who was a performer and understands it in such a way that she only nurtures. Everything we get is so positive in that way because she wants us to be the best we can be, and, thus, we want to be the best we can be. It's always a very positive atmosphere in the room. That's the best place to work from.

"I feel very passionate about this piece. We've all worked very hard, certainly, to get it here. Because it's a show about parent-child relationships — and we're all a parent or we're all a child — it's something we relate to. We all bring our own stuff to this."

Ben Crawford, who plays Bloom's romantic rival and is as much of a villain as the show can muster, didn't mind the "heavy" tag, primarily because, "I love this show. It's so close to my heart. I come from a strong family, and it's just so wonderful to see the connection be created between father and son on stage."

Ten-year-old Zachary Unger ran the press gauntlet like a child in a candy store. He juggles four roles: "Young Will, a clown, Will's son and a boy in the park," he ticked off. His favorite thing: "I like being with the cast. They're really friendly."


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