Catch ‘Big Fish’ at Footlite

By John Lyle Belden

Nothing is as entertaining as a good story, and in “Big Fish,” on stage through July 23 at Footlite Musicals, we meet a man whose life is full of them.

This recent Broadway musical, based on the 2003 Tim Burton film (and 1998 Daniel Wallace novel), is Footlite’s Young Adult production (with a couple of older actors), directed by Kathleen Clarke Horrigan.

Edward Bloom (Kyle Cherry) believes one should be the hero of his story, and tells his young son, Will (Rocco Meo), one fantastical tale after another. But by the time he grows up, adult Will (Drew Bryson) sees his father as a mystery shrouded in self-made myths. Then, as Edward’s health starts to fail, Will quests for the truth – and finds a new understanding of the man who met a witch, befriended a giant, joined the circus and saved a town.

Edward’s stories come to life through the magic of the stage. We see him encounter a mermaid (Tessa Gibbons), and later the witch (Tayler Seymour) who tells him how he will die. Rather than despair, the news gives him confidence to face any dangerous situation knowing “that’s not how it ends.” So he bravely confronts Karl the Giant (Zachary Hoover) and has himself shot out of a cannon so he can meet and propose to beautiful redheaded Sandra (Regan Desautels).

The show features some memorable songs (“Be the Hero,” “Fight the Dragons,” “Stranger,” “Start Over”) and dance breaks – the Alabama Stomp is guaranteed to bring fish to the surface – as well as solid performances. Aside from actors listed so far, notable cast members include Samantha Russell as Jenny Hill, Edward’s high school sweetheart; Noah Nordman as Don Price, the classmate who returned to Ashton, Ala., after college; and Jeff Reeves, showing the youngsters how it’s done as circus boss Amos Calloway.

Footlite’s production is a beautiful tribute to the bond between fathers and sons, strong even when frayed, as well as the importance of stories and the power of love. Just don’t be surprised if your heart hesitates whenever you see daffodils.

During the run of the show, there is a fundraiser in the lobby benefiting cancer charities.

Find Footlite at 1847 N. Alabama St., just north of downtown Indy; call 317-926-6630 or visit footlite.org.

Review: Fun but unusual “Family” show

Gomez Addams (Eddie Curry, center) is caught between honoring the wishes of his daughter Wednesday (Samantha Russell, left) and wife Morticia (Erin Cohenour) in a scene from
Gomez Addams (Eddie Curry, center) is caught between honoring the wishes of his daughter Wednesday (Samantha Russell, left) and wife Morticia (Erin Cohenour) in a scene from “The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy,” playing at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre through Nov. 22. — B&B photo

By John Lyle Belden

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, 9301 Michigan Road in northwest Indianapolis, hosts “The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy,” through Nov. 22.

High schooler Samantha Russell more than holds her own in her excellent portrayal of Wednesday Addams next to seasoned pros including Erin Cohenour (Morticia), Eddie Curry (Gomez), Amanda Butterbaugh (Grandma), Jeff Stockberger (Lurch) and Shaun Rice as Uncle Fester, the role he played on national tour.

The story — with Wednesday falling in love with a “normal” boy and trust issues developing between her parents — shows a family that, despite their oddities, are good-natured people we can somewhat identify with. The songs are fun and the comic hijinks entertaining. Though the subplot of Fester’s love affair with the Moon (yes, the actual heavenly body) is a little distracting, it still fits into the odd family culture the Addamses have been famous for, for generations.

The cast also includes Simon Barnes as Pugsley Addams, Blake Spallacy as Wednesday’s beau, and John Vessels and Sarah Hund as his parents. Thing is uncredited, which is unfair as he is quite “hand”some. (No Cousin Itt in this production — maybe in a sequel? — which I’m guessing was a relief to the costume crew.) Also, Jennifer Ladner, Samuel McKanney, Amy Owens, Peter Scharbrough, Kenny Shepard and Christine Zavakos appear as ghostly ancestors — trapped by Fester on this side of the grave until they help Wednesday fulfill her destiny — to help give the show more of an old-time big-dance-number musical feel.

Full disclosure: Your family will enjoy spending time with this family. Get info and tickets at 317-82-9664 or beefandboards.com.