Big Fish | Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Big Fish The Short List (Theater) Recommended Image Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 5 2013

A few weeks ago, Broadway in Chicago gave us a bad example of how to adapt a hit movie for the stage. Catch Me If You Can came across as a sloppy piece of work that uses its source material as a pretext rather than a subject. Now BIC is making it up to us. Based on the 2003 Tim Burton film about an alienated son and his tall-tale-telling dad, this new musical Big Fish manages to be true to its 35-mm antecedent without getting all slavish about it. John August's book is mostly sensible about what does and doesn't translate to the stage (though a mermaid that's important to the screen version gets marooned here). Andrew Lippa's score is smart fun. Julian Crouch's sets are wonderfully suggestive. And even if he isn't visually believable when playing the dad as a young man, Norbert Leo Butz brings an almost Cohanesque energy to his performance. But what most clearly connects this show to Burton's opus is the playful, imaginative, big-hearted choreography by Susan Stroman. —Tony Adler


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