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'Big Fish' tales

Cary Ashby • Mar 4, 2019 at 10:00 AM

MILAN — “Big Fish” isn’t exactly a household name when it comes to musicals. However, the Edison High School Drama Club cast members said there are many elements to which the audience can relate. 

“There’s a lot of depth to the script,” said senior Allison Pennell, who plays fun-loving Sandra. “She becomes the love of Edward’s life. … She tries to be the middle ground between Edward and his son Will and keep them calm.”

Based on the novel “Big Fish” by Daniel Wallace, the musical tells the story of Edward Bloom (senior Evan Hoffman), a traveling salesman who loves to tell tall tales, and his son, Will (sophomore Leo Schnellinger). Will is about to become a father. He wants to learn the truth behind his own father’s frequent absences and the tall tales his dad would tell when he returned home.

The Edison performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and again at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Charger All Event passes will be honored for the show. Tickets will be available at the door or may be reserved in advance by calling 419-499-4652 ext. 1080.

“Big Fish” also was made into a 2003 movie directed by Tim Burton. Ewan McGregor played young Edward while the late Albert Finney portrayed the older version of the character.

The Edison Drama Club watched a performance at the International Thespian Conference. Inspired by what they saw, the officers later voted for “Big Fish” to be their next production.

“The musical numbers are really fun and we really like it,” said Pennell, the daughter of Robert and Lora. “Most of these songs are really about teaching a life lesson.”

Through a series of flashbacks, the audience meets the characters from Edward’s tall tales — a mermaid (sophomore Ruby Bement), fortune teller (sophomore Katie Jeremay), giant (senior Morgan Otto) and a werewolf (senior Vernon Kluding). The 24-member cast also includes junior Kyla Brown as Will’s wife, Josephine; junior Sarah Bursley as Jenny Hill and senior Michael Roth as Dr. Benett.

Wait … there’s a giant?

Otto, the son of Ryan and Jennifer, plays Karl the giant, who ultimately works at a circus.

“He lives in a cave and the townspeople freak out about him. Edward knows about how he dies, so he’s not afraid to confront him,” Otto said. “It’s kinda like a road trip … and we end up at the circus.”

For his role, the senior had to learn to walk on stilts. It was his third day using them when the Reflector was at Edison. Otto said he was more comfortable in the stilts than he was previously.

Hoffman said “Big Fish” has “an awesome script” that allows him and the other actors to connect with their roles.

“It’s one thing to have characters; it’s another to have real people,” added the son of Kevin and Kim. “It’s a story about life and family problems.”

“Big Fish” is directed by Rex Stanforth, with musical direction by Jann Glann, technical direction by Amy Cull and costumes by Sara Schwab and Laura Silkwood. Kayliann Schhwinn handles the choreography.

As strange as the elements of the story sound, cast members said “Big Fish” boils down to writing your own story.

“Your life is your own and you make out of it what you want,” said Otto, who called it “a very powerful play” which will tug at the audience’s heart strings. “I guarantee they will need tissues going out.”

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