Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

BIG Musical Adaptation of Hit Movie Flopped on Broadway, but a Revamped Road Version Has Critics Crowing

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

BIG Musical Adaptation of Hit Movie Flopped on Broadway, but a Revamped Road Version Has Critics Crowing

Article excerpt

Be careful what you wish.

Everyone knows that. Everyone also pretty much ignores it.

Twelve-year-old Josh Baskin certainly did and found out how

heart-rending and hilarious the results can be after Zoltar, a

carnival fortune-telling machine, grants his wish to "become

big."

Overnight, Josh becomes a grown-up, on the outside anyway. His

childlike enthusiasm and point of view land him a job with a

Manhattan toy company. Then, uh oh, Josh and co-worker Susan

(Jacquelyn Piro) fall in love.

And that's when the fun begins in Big, a newly adapted road

show the FCCJ Artist Series brings today through Sunday to the

Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts in Jacksonville.

Jim Newman plays "big Josh," a role brought memorably to life

by Tom Hanks in the 1988 hit movie.

There's something irresistible, Newman said, about playing a

role that allows so many of the things you do and say to have

double or even triple meanings. It's also nice, he said, to work

with a subtle script that says a lot of poignant things about

adult society, but without becoming preachy.

And finally, Newman admitted, it's simply fun at age 33 to

"just be a kid" again.

"I didn't realize it in a way, but I had been doing a series of

these very dark, depressing roles," he said. "So it's been great

to do something that's very uplifting. This show is just kind of

about joy. And to do that for three hours a night is a nice

change of pace. Every night, I get to lose about 20 years. It's

fun."

It's also exhausting.

Combine a set full of giant toy props and the demands of

conveying adolescent exuberance, and you've got a pretty good

physical workout on your hands.

"I have to admit, when we started touring, it was kicking my

butt big time," Newman said by phone before a road show in

Memphis, Tenn., his 25th city in seven months of touring.

"Josh is jumping on the furniture and running from one end of

the set to the other.

"At first, during rehearsals, I'd just come home and not say a

word and just rest all day. Now I'm kind of used to it. I have a

little bit of a social life again. …

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