'Big Fish' baits a fresh audience
Secondary school students at Tatachilla Lutheran College have thrown themselves into the performance of their young lives: a reimagining of Tim Burton’s 2003 fantasy-comedy-drama film Big Fish, which is based on the 1998 novel of the same name by Daniel Wallace.
Re-imagined as a stage musical, Big Fish is not a typical school production. Its themes are subtle and complex. The story is told through a series of interconnected vignettes, full of magic realism. Crucially, the audience is invited to traverse the worlds of fantasy and reality, embarking on a truly fantastic journey that may (or may not) include a witch and a mermaid.
“Big Fish is the most daring musical that the college has performed to date,” says Tatachilla Lutheran College Arts Learning Leader, Eliza Player.
“It has stretched our student actors and shown them that there is more than one way to see and experience the world.
“We believe the musical can be enjoyed on several levels – as a whimsical and hilarious fable, or as a moving tale of deep familial love.
“Big Fish has been an amazing challenge for our young cast and will deliver an unforgettable entertainment experience for our audience.”
At its heart, Big Fish is a story about the reconciliation between a father and a son. It tells the tale of a travelling salesman – Edward Bloom – who loves to tell fantastical tales of mythical creatures and epic events to explain the world to his young son, Will. As Will grows, Edward’s stories start to seem preposterous: Will finds it hard to relate to his father because his tall tales get in the way of developing an authentic relationship based on truth. Afterall, giants and werewolves simply aren’t real… are they?
Tatachilla’s charismatic student cast is set to explore this question – and many others – when they tread the boards at the Hopgood Theatre next month and delve into the meaning of truth, ambition, immortality, love and redemption. It’s an ambitious and inspired quest, and one that will stay with them long into adulthood.
Year 11 student Harry Armstrong, who plays the lead role of Edward, says that Big Fish is a major highlight of his penultimate year at Tatachilla.
“Big Fish has got something of everything in it: humour, sorrow, regret, grief, playfulness, companionship, joy.
“I love that we get to tell a really human story by drawing on myth and magic.
“As a cast, I think we’ve grown as people and learned to trust each other and found the courage to express ourselves creatively.
“Playing a character gives you the scope to see the world through fresh eyes and have an enormous amount of fun.
“I think a little bit of Edward Bloom – and his stories – will stay with me forever.
“I hope that lots of people come to see Big Fish because its themes are really important and I guarantee that everyone who buys a ticket will be singing the songs in the shower for weeks to come.”
Ms Player, Learning Leader for the Arts, says that the most important message in Big Fish is that stories are the way that we share our legacy with future generations, and that because our stories have the power to outlive us, they make us immortal.
“This musical is a wonderful opportunity for all members of the community to experience one of the major highlights of the college’s performing arts program and see firsthand what is involved in putting on a show of such scope and scale,” she says.
“We know that fish only grow as large as the pond they’re in. And that is also true of our children. That’s why we have given them the world of Big Fish to stretch their stage legs and discover the performer – and the story-teller – within.
“We’d love to see the community support our cast and crew by purchasing a ticket to the show and wowing our student performers with the kind of audience they will never forget.”
Where and when
Big Fish (School Edition)
Five performances over 4-6 May 2023
Hopgood Theatre, Ramsay Place, Noarlunga Centre
Adults $30.00, concession $25.00
How to book