WILLIAMSBURG — The students in the theater program at Lafayette High School describe the program as one big family, so it’s no surprise that their spring musical, “Big Fish,” has the overarching message of the importance of family.
“Big Fish” was originally published in 1998 as a novel. In 2003, Tim Burton adapted the story into a feature film. The musical premiered on Broadway in September 2013 and closed in December of that year. Much of the script draws inspiration from The Odyssey and Ulysses.
The show centers around a traveling salesman, Edward Bloom, who would come home and share the stories of his travels with his children. With his father sick and dying, Edward’s son William tries to piece together what is true about his stories, as he’s always felt that his father kept things from him. The overarching messages of the show are love, loss, dying, and the importance of family.
Reagan Schlimme, who plays Jenny Hill, and Davis Brewer, who plays Young Edward Bloom, are both excited to debut the show. For Schlimme, who is also a dance captain of the show, the message of family is ever-present in both the musical cast and her own personal life.
“As a cast, we’ve all sat down and talked about some of our hardest losses and what it means to each of us. I’ve learned so much about my castmates and how they have personally dealt with the issues in the show,” Schlimme said.
Brewer hopes that those who come to see the show take away the importance of remembering that at the end of it all, family is always there to have your back.
“Every family has their own version of crazy, but at the end of the day, every family has their own way of showing their love,” Brewer said.
Suzan McCorry, who has been directing the shows at Lafayette for years, wanted to challenge her cast, but also personally wanted to direct something that meant a lot to her.
“I have loved this show for a very long time. It was a beautifully written novel and then it became a movie that I watched many times. I knew that someday I wanted to direct it on the stage at Lafayette. This show tells a story in different perspectives of time. It connects families, it’s about relationships, and love. There are so many elements that tie it all together,” McCorry said.
For McCorry, she is hopeful that audience members are reminded that with those most important to them, time is precious.
“I hope that when people come to see this, they are reminded that time is really important in our relationships. I want people to really embrace those moments with our loved ones. It’s here today but we don’t know if it’s here tomorrow. When they walk out of our performance, I hope they remember to be present with loved ones and always carve out time for family,” McCorry said.
As Brewer and Schlimme round out their final performance on the Lafayette stage, both are hoping to remind audience members of the important role that family plays in every stage of life.
“All families have a struggle, but underneath that struggle, there is love, understanding and the idea that you can get through anything,” Schlimme said.
“There is always love and the struggle, but it’s always in your family. Your family is always there for you and every family is different, but at the end of the day, they are your family,” Brewer added.
Big Fish is scheduled to open on April 27 at 7 p.m. Shows will continue on April 28 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, April 29 at 2 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.