Big the Musical: Dominion Theatre, London
Reviewed 14th September 2019 (preview performance)
Based upon the 1988 hit film Big, this production marks Big the Musical‘s first West End outing. Highly anticipated with a star casting including Jay McGuiness, Wendi Peters, Matthew Kelly and Kimberly Walsh, Big the Musical is running for a strictly limited run at the Dominion Theatre until the 2nd November 2019. After stumbling upon Zoltar Speaks at the carnival, Josh makes a wish to be ‘big’ however when his wish comes true although at first it seems fun he soon finds out that being big isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
The original songs, by David Shire and Richard Maltby Jr, fit show well and help narrate the story but are not overly memorable. There are some catchy songs such as ‘Cross The Line‘ but equally there are some songs which feel unnecessary and are forgettable. Jay McGuiness has a lovely voice and manages to showcase his character through every song he sings. This is particularly evident in his more emotional songs such as ‘I Want To Go Home‘ and ‘When You’re Big‘. Wendi Peters also shows off her vocal talent, particularly in the song ‘Stop, Time’. Kimberly Walsh impresses as Susan Lawrence. Her vocals are clear and powerful, as you would expect from the former Girls Aloud member, and her characterisation is also brilliant throughout. ‘Stars, stars, stars‘ is a lovely song showcasing both McGuiness‘ and Walsh’s talent. Matthew Kelly is definitely a crowd pleaser as George MacMillan and shows just why he’s been gracing the stage for so many years.
The large cast are all very talented and maintain character throughout, whether centre stage or in the background. The children are all brilliant. Jobe Hart who played Billy at this performance has the stage presence of a performer much older. His character comes through at all times. He is definitely one to watch in the future. As is Jamie O’Connor who played young Josh during this performance.
The incredible set design by Simon Higlett is visually stunning and is utilised well. The revolve allows for seamless set changes and the digital background is clear and vibrant enabling the change of locations to be quick and believable. Clearly a lot of time, money and effort has gone into the set and prop pieces, ensuring they are in the 80’s era and it makes for one of the most visually impressive shows on the West End currently; perfect for the vast size of the Dominion Theatre. Every attention to detail has been thought of and the costumes and wigs also reflect this making it a very well put together production – especially given its relatively short run. Lighting by Tim Lutkin is also very effective and makes the set and characters come alive. Clever lighting within the auditiorom also helps engage the audience, particularly younger members.
Big the Musical will no doubt attract lots of fans of the Tom Hanks film but is also great fun for families – although given the length and some of the context I’d recommend older children would enjoy it the most. Whilst it may not have the most memorable score, it is visually incredible and the story stays true to the film. Fans of the film will not be disappointed and those coming to the show with no preconceived ideas will enjoy this magical, fun coming of age musical.
Big the Musical runs at the Dominion Theatre, London until the 2nd November 2019. For tickets and information click here.
Photo Credit: Alastair Muir