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

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07 Oct 2013

Kirsten Scott
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Angie Schworer had it worse character-wise, but maintained a good attitude. "I do 14 costume changes and play about a million people," she said. "It's a lot of quick changes and a lot of work, but it's all fun and it helps tell the story, and that's what Big Fish is all about — telling the story and creating those little fantastical moments."

The roles of the witch and a high school girlfriend, which were merged in the movie to give Mrs. Burton (Helena Bonham Carter) more to do, have been separated into two characters for the musical.

"It seemed to make more sense the way it was played out on the stage," said Kirsten Scott, who plays the former half. "Although her love for Edward might be a little bit misguided, I think she has a very genuine love. I think that's really hard to find in a character. It's very true, and it's very innocent."

Ryan Andes, who lumbers around the stage, towering over one and all as a giant named Carl, turns out to be much shorter on the red carpet — a less freaky six-foot-four — which still puts him head and shoulders above the rest of the cast. Stilts give him an extra two feet and accentuate his lumbering movements through scenes.

He is making his Broadway debut, wearing his grandfather's watch for good luck. It was at the Simon (then the Alvin) that his grandfather — Keith Andes — made his last Broadway appearance as Lucille Ball's leading man, Joe Dynamite, in Wildcat.

The mermaid who relegates the orchestra to the back of the stage and turns their pit into her own private pool parked her fins and blonde wig for the red carpet, becoming Sarrah Strimel. "Three different puppeteers work the fins," she revealed.

"I don't know anyone who could see this show and not be emotionaly moved," declared Graham Rowat, who — full disclosure — is married to redheaded leading lady Baldwin. "We have a two-and-a-half-year-old son, and we're both working on Broadway. I'm playing Harry, the British dad, in Mamma Mia! Life is good."

Another conspicuously employed acting couple, Sebastian Arcelus and Stephanie J. Block, are on the brink of openings. His, A Time To Kill, just racked up its first week of previews. "It's an amazing ensemble cast of 14 actors that I'm so thrilled to be sharing the stage with," he said. Hers, Little Miss Sunshine, goes into previews Oct. 15 with a cast of 10, six of whom are crammed into a van for a cross-country trip.

Susan Stroman
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Frank Marshall, who produces movie blockbusters (Spielberg, a specialty), arrived with the songwriter Jimmy Buffet. Together they are Parrothead Productions. "Bruce Cohen, who produced the original movie of 'Big Fish,' called and said, 'We're thinking of doing a musical version, and I said, 'I'm in,'" explained Marshall. "This is our first Broadway musical."

Buffet applauded Lippa's score, saying, "I think there are three songs in it that are catchy enough that you go out humming them. As a songwriter myself, I just like anything that tells a good story."

Zach Braff with Taylor Bagley, already made a double debut Off-Broadway as a playwright and as an actor. Now, he can't wait to start rehearsing for his Broadway acting debut in Bullets Over Broadway in January. He will play the hapless young playwright.

Comedian Mario Cantone deferred to his partner, Jerry Dixon, for Broadway news. "Did you know I'm returning to Broadway after 21 years?" Dixon beamed. "My first time back since Five Guys Named Moe. I'm going to be in the new If/Then written by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey and directed by Michael Greif. It's very exciting to be doing a new show. We're in week five of rehearsal. We go to D.C. in mid-October, start performances there Nov. 5, and then we come back to New York and open March 27 at the Richard Rodgers. I play Steven, a city planner."

"And he's the best city-planner actor in the country!" chimed in Cantone.

Other first nighters included Brent Barrett (who'll "Speak Low" Oct. 7 at Symphony Space, saluting Kurt Weill on Broadway with Melissa Errico, Ron Raines and Judy Blazer); Tony winner Billy Porter, wearing well his Kinky Boots success ("It's energizing to be a part of something that you've waited your whole life for. It's nice. It's really nice."); Victor Garber, back in town from shooting "Selfless" with Ryan Reynolds and Sir Ben Kingsley in New Orleans; Kathy Najimy, having made the coast switch back here two years ago ("I'm working on a solo show called Lift Up Your Skirts"); and Matthew Broderick, another Producers Tony nominee who couldn't praise Stroman's direction enough ("The staging is mind-blowing!").

Also: Sierra Boggess, Entertainment Weekly editor Jess Cagle and lead producer Dan Jinks, a gaggle of actors from the upcoming "Annie" film (Zoe Colletti, Nicolette Pierini, Amanda Troya, Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis and Eden Duncan Smith), Amy Fine Collins, Whoopi Goldberg. Ellen Greene, Paul Haggis, Perez Hilton, Kara Lindsay and Thea Brooks, Michael Mayer and Spencer Liff, Jimmy Nederlander and Margo MacNabb Nederlander, Zachary Quinto, Thomas Roberts and Patrick Abner, Liev Schreiber with sons Samuel and Alexander and two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank. Marisa Tomei, Regis Philbin and Catherine Zeta-Jones were camera-shy.



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Kate Baldwin
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

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