OPINION: Big Fish the Musical: the best thing to come out of the theater program

Joey Arthur, Reporter

*Columns are the opinions of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wichitan as an organization.*

MSU’s Theater program, in collaboration with the university choir and students from the music department, presented their biannual spring musical, Big Fish. The musical took place from March 3-6 at the Fain Fine Arts Center Auditorium.

I was a member of the pit chorus for big fish and it was an amazing experience. I got to work with amazing people not just in the pit chorus but in the cast and crew of the show. Everyone was so talented and I loved the audience as we had such great audience members every show night or matinee.

Big Fish is a broadway musical written by Andrew Lippa and John August. It is based on the 1998 novel, “Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions” written by Daniel Wallace but that’s not what matters. What matters (for those who didn’t see it) is that Big Fish is a musical about love, fantasy, death and magical experiences to which the theater department delivered. Director and Choreographer, Morgan Mallory, assistant professor for musical theater and acting, gives her interpretation of Big Fish.

“I see Big Fish as a love story, but instead of a traditional love story, this is a between a father and his son as they are working through their relationship as the son tries to solidify his feelings and navigate the relationship with his father as his father is leaving this earth,” Mallory said.

Ethan Boone, mass communication sophomore, plays Edward Bloom, the protagonist of the musical, father to Will, and husband/love interest to Sandra Templeton. Boone isn’t just an amazing actor but an amazing person. It has been an absolute privilege to rehearse and perform with him. He is a breathtaking person. Boone gives his views on his character, Edward.

“Edward is a sweet and caring guy that has a hard shell around him that is really important to the story of the musical and he tries to be a good father despite what Will thinks of him,” Boone said.

Luke Craddock, theater sophomore, plays William ‘Will’ Bloom, the deuteragonist of the musical and the narrator of the 1998 novel. Will is the husband of Josephine Bloom, father of his unnamed kid, and son to Edward and Sandra Bloom. Working with Craddock has been very insightful and awe-inspiring as he is so talented in what he does that it is aspirational. Craddock’s gleeful nature and serious demeanor made working with him very pleasant. Craddock gives his interpretation of his character, Will.

“Will’s childhood has made him very pragmatic and a lot more down to earth. Will is a realist, somewhat pessimistic, and sees things as they are and he doesn’t do a lot of imaginative things. He is very cut and dry and that’s in part because of his relationship with his father,” Craddock said.

Emily Frerich plays Sandra Templeton-Bloom, the tritagonist of the musical. Sandra is the resolution of Will and Edward’s relationship. Frerich was my favorite person that I got to interact with for this show. She is so talented, sweet, compassionate, and such a good soul. One of my favorite memories from the show was when she gave everyone a bag of candies and compliment cards for valentine’s day. She is an amazing soul and her singing is so good that she sounded exceptionally better than when Kate Baldwin did the broadway version of Big Fish. Frerich gives her interpretations of her character, Sandra.

“Sandra is an optimistic and adventurous person. She loves adventures and stories because of how imaginative she is, which makes her the perfect match for Edward,” Frerich said.

The musical features a lot of different characters to fall in love with played by so many talented students each with specific roles that are very important to the musical as a whole. Working with all these theater students and seeing them in their element has been an absolute joy. James Alexander, theater sophomore, gives a quick run-down of their character, Karl the giant.

“Karl is a giant from Alabama who lives in a cave for most of his life until Edward Bloom comes in and tells him that he is and can be bigger than living in a cave and Karl listens to Edward and goes into the world and finds himself and his happiness,” Alexander said.

Making this musical was no small feat and that is in thanks to the amazing men and women that worked on the crew whether it was choreographing the musical, sound and light support, costume and hair design, coordinating rehearsals, and so on, these men and women made the process of creating this musical easier and more enjoyable.

The theater department and the music department worked so diligently and impressively to get this musical ready for opening night on March 3 and they delivered the musical very perfectly. I am sad that it came to an end but also grateful for experiencing that magical moment. Special shoutout to Thomas Wininger, director of choral activities and musical director for Big Fish the Musical. Working with Wininger in any project is always so smooth and amazing but he made this musical very easy, comfortable and stress-free. Wininger gives his reason on why you should have seen the musical on opening night.

“First of all, this is a story everyone can relate to. It is emotional and moving and it will make you feel something and second of all, it is music that everyone can also relate to that mimics our culture in a wide variety,” Wininger said.