“Big Fish centers on two men – Edward and Will Bloom – and two thematic questions:
- Mortality, or How Does a Hero Live On?
- Fatherhood, or What Makes a Good Dad?”
This is the first page of the Director’s script for Homestead’s musical, Big Fish, written by the author, John August on February 2014.
Hello, Amelia Figg-Franzoi here, the director of Homestead’s theatre program. After reading the above I start to cry to which my husband asks, “Is this what the next few months will be like?” I tearily respond, “Yes,” and I giggle. Even if I didn’t lose my mother six months ago, a legend in her own right, I know I would be a mess with this show. It’s a sad musical about love and loss and finding who you are by finding who your parent is. But that is neither here nor there. I have to take into account that I chose this show months after my mother passed and that I’m insane. We already knew that… at least those dearest to me know I’m insane.
Big Fish is going to be a journey of discovery for my students and myself. I’m acknowledging right now, before auditions even begin, that I will cry, and laugh and share some very harsh truths about watching someone bigger than life shrivel up and leave the corporeal world. I’ve read the book Big Fish, watched Tim Burton’s movie Big Fish, and read the script a few times… let me tell you it’s a tear-jerker even if you’ve lived an amazing life and haven’t lost a loved one. “Edward Bloom is a man who claims to be unafraid of death because of what the Witch showed him. The truth is, he is afraid, as any rational person would be. Edward is afraid he’s going to disappear.” This is something we all grapple with, “do we matter?” We are all embedded into each other, especially in the 700 wing. This musical is about real life, something we haven’t tackled in a long time. What does happen when you reach the end of your life? Who will remember you and how will you have lived your life? I see my mother in Edward Bloom in so many ways, they are strong, magical people who could befriend anyone they met. They are special people.
Just like my mother passed on her dance and passion for teaching to me, Edward Bloom passes on the art of storytelling to his son, Will. Only, Will struggled to see that the stories mean something and aren’t purely for entertainment. “Will is desperately trying to figure out who his father is. Will is never trying to prove his father wrong. He is never looking for the truth; he is looking for a man.” And ultimately, he does find his father and does realize he is a legend, thus he passes on his father’s stories to his own son.
There is a magic about Edward Bloom and his son Will and the women, Sandra, Josephine, and Jenny, who shape their lives. Edward, as we all will, will live on in stories, we will live on in our children and the people we touch in our lives. Big Fish is beautiful and I can’t wait to tackle it with the amazing cast, crew, and pit. I will apologize in advance for crying often, many of you have my mother living in you as well and it’s a privilege to work with you for this show. Let’s make this musical as amazing as our own lives will be and honor those who cannot tell their own stories, so we will tell them for them.