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‘Big Fish’ premiere tells lively, heartfelt story

Brikaih+Flor%C3%A9+and+Scott+Hurst%2C+playing+Sandra+Bloom+and+Edward+Bloom+respectively+in+the+Big+Fish+musical+production%2C+perform+during+the+dress+rehearsal+at+the+Lincoln+Center+in+Fort+Collins%2C+CO+March+22.+%28Samantha+Nordstrom+%7C+The+Collegian%29
Collegian | Samantha Nordstrom
Brikaih Floré and Scott Hurst, playing Sandra Bloom and Edward Bloom respectively in the Big Fish musical production, perform during the dress rehearsal at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, CO March 22. (Samantha Nordstrom | The Collegian)

Movie, book and theater fans alike will likely enjoy Fort Collins’ latest musical performance: “Big Fish – Small Cast Edition.”

It was premiered by OpenStage Theatre & Company Saturday, March 23 at The Lincoln Center. OpenStage is Fort Collins’ oldest theater company.

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The novel “Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions,” written by Daniel Wallace in 1998, was taken to the screen by the mind of Tim Burton in 2003, and in 2013, Andrew Lippa and John August debuted the musical.

It tells the beautiful story of a father, Edward Bloom, and his son, Will Bloom. Throughout Will’s childhood, Edward told him many fantastical and whimsical stories, but now the adult Will is looking for the truth. It is a story woven by stories and the wonder and pain that can come from that. 

Noah Racey, head of musical theater at Colorado State University, directed this performance. He was named associate artistic director of OpenStage in 2022. 

“Sandra is the heart of this show, and ultimately, without her, it would be difficult to fall in love with Edward Bloom. She helps us fall in love with him through her eyes.” Brikaih Floré, Sandra Bloom in “Big Fish”

Racey discussed the show’s themes and its meaning and importance. 

“It’s a show about imagination and reality and what every parent hopes to offer their children,” Racey said. 

He also talked about how familial relationships play out in the show. 

“(It is) the idealism that (a) parent wants to give these fantastic ideas and wonderful inspiration to the child and the idealism of children who want what they think they can pin down as the truth,” Racey said. 

Scott Hurst plays Edward beautifully, bringing to life the magic of a man who — without spoiling the show — has truly seen it all. 

Hurst discussed his journey with his character and what it means to the show overall. 

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“For me, the show is about a dreamer and storyteller that cannot find a true connection with his son,” Hurst said. “The lack of understanding and common ground with a father figure is something that stands out with my personal life experience.” 

Hurst elaborated on those personal feelings. 

I drew on experiences I had with my own father growing up, who passed away two years ago,” Hurst said. “I knew when I was cast as Edward Bloom, I felt the need to infuse a lot of my own father’s mannerisms and sensibility into the character.” 

While Edward brings life and magic into the show, so does his wife, Sandra Bloom, played incredibly by Brikaih Floré. 

Floré discussed her character’s journey and some of her favorite moments during the show. 

“I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with this show in the many ways I have,” Floré said. “I think I needed Sandra. … In the end, I ended up with a complex character who is fiery, passionate, kind, loving and stubborn. She is a mother, a wife, a woman, a dreamer; Sandra is the heart of this show, and ultimately, without her, it would be difficult to fall in love with Edward Bloom. She helps us fall in love with him through her eyes.”

Emotionally powerful songs like “This River Between Us” and “Daffodils” help bring to life the grief and struggle that follows the performances while also showcasing incredible acting and musical skill. 

“Big Fish” will run at The Lincoln Center until April 20. 

Reach Aubree Miller at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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  • K

    Kate ForgachApr 4, 2024 at 10:16 am

    Thank you so very much for your article in OpenStage’s Big Fish. As a looooongtime, local Arts and Entertainment reporter/reviewer, it’s heartening to see The Collegian pick up on a beat The Coloradoan long-ago abandoned.

    The arts have always been a vitally important part of what drives Fort Collins. Sadly, governmental support hasn’t kept up with inflation and the growing need for arts funding, apparently preferring to focus on financial support for carpetbagger developers.

    Again, thanks so much!

    Reply