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Seven must-see Broadway (and Off Broadway) shows you can ACTUALLY get tickets to this December

If you, like my family, have made plans to head to New York this December but have not planned far enough ahead to, say, buy tickets to a Broadway show, you’re in luck: there are plenty of others like you who are spontaneous theatergoers. Well, fly-by-night patrons in search of available, affordable, AND quality tickets need not worry about getting last pick, a la an unfortunate dodgeball game or holiday dinner behind greedier and more robust relatives.

EW’s stage team has highlighted seven shows (four Broadway, three Off Broadway) that you should — and more importantly can – still get tickets to upon your visit these next few weeks in December. They’re sensational shows, only made better by the fact that you don’t necessarily have to wait in the cold at TKTS or book months in advance to enjoy the experiences that people may still be fond of next year. (Also, stick around EW.com next week for our editor’s Top 10 stage picks of 2013!)

Big Fish (EW’s Grade: B+)
You only have a few more weeks to catch this extraordinarily inventive and heartstring-tugging love letter to the grand traditions of musical theater (with the production values of 2013 thrown in, of course) before it closes December 29. Two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz is utterly mesmerizing, as are the supporting cast (like the dynamite Kate Baldwin, whose name you’ll be hearing more and more) and an old-fashioned score by Andrew Lippa that will have you humming for days. READ FULL STORY

This Week on Stage: Billy Crystal hits a home run, Mark Rylance swaps sexes

Another week, another one swimming off the Great White Way as the large-scale musical of Big Fish announced it will play its final show on Dec. 29 after 98 regular performances. (But definitely count on it being remembered at Tony time, especially for fearless lead Norbert Leo Butz.) People are showing in droves, however, for two of this week’s new entries: The return of Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays bagged over $1 million with only six performances last week (most shows have eight), and the Globe-inspired Shakespeare play duo at the Belasco is playing close to capacity every show, cementing Mark Rylance’s status as our premier import. Could he win, not one, but two more Tonys this season? He’s got competition aplenty already (including Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, also performing two shows in rep which open next weekend). But as a character in Twelfth Night says, “I have them at my fingers’ end.” Also this week is a radio play by the late Samuel Beckett (whom McKellen and Stewart are getting to know quite well with Waiting for Godot), and an Oscar-winning family dramedy that finds a new life on the NYC stage (click on the links below for full reviews): READ FULL STORY

'Big Fish' sets closing date on Broadway

Insert your best “swim away” pun here.

One of this fall’s first new shows to debut on Broadway has now become one of the season’s first to close. The new musical Big Fish, based on the Daniel Wallace novel and Tim Burton’s subsequent 2003 film adaptation, will close on Dec. 29, following 34 previews and 98 regular performances. The show opened on Oct. 6.

EW gave the “delightfully old-fashioned” musical a B+, praising the charisma of leading man Norbert Leo Butz (a two-time Tony winner and quick to bounce back, surely) and the wondrous design of the show, which comes from the creative minds of director/choreographer Susan Stroman and a slew of Broadway’s finest designers.

Watch a clip from the show below: READ FULL STORY

Broadway box office: Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz break records with 'Betrayal'

Daniel Craig has a license to kill at the Broadway box office. Teaming the James Bond star with his real-life wife, Rachel Weisz, turns out to have been a very good idea for the producers of the Harold Pinter revival Betrayal. Though the show doesn’t open until Oct. 27, the Mike Nichols-directed drama has broken records at the Barrymore Theatre for its first two weeks of previews. For the week ending Oct. 13, it took in $1.11 million for seven performances, according to figures from the Broadway League. That tops the weekly earnings of the Philip Seymour Hoffman-topped revival of Death of a Salesman last year.

Broadway’s other big hit this fall is another starry revival. The Glass Menagerie, starring Zachary Quinto, has steadily increased its box office since opening late last month to rave reviews. Last week, it pulled in $724,363, a remarkable 91 percent of the potential gross for the modestly sized Booth Theatre. But seldom was there a tale of more woe than the box office for Romeo and Juliet. The new production starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad earned $470,744 last week, or roughly 38 percent of its potential earnings.

Surprisingly, the nonmusical revivals Betrayal and Menagerie are both outperforming most of the season’s new tuners. Sales for the megabudget Big Fish leapt 33 percent from the previous week to $856,110, or 62 percent of its possible gross. A Night With Janis Joplin, which opened last Thursday, earned $353,070, or 57 percent of its potential take. First Date hooked up with $448,331, a mere 52 percent of its potential, while Soul Doctor, which closed Sunday, pulled in a paltry $128,256 — that’s just 18 percent of what the venue could have earned.

In addition to Betrayal, the other seven-figure earners last week were the usual suspects: The Lion King ($1.88 million), Wicked ($1.87 million), The Book of Mormon ($1.84 million), Kinky Boots ($1.81 million), Motown: The Musical ($1.49 million), Matilda ($1.43 million), and The Phantom of the Opera ($1.02 million).

This Week on Stage: 'Big Fish' makes a splash, the return of Janis Joplin

A nice small cornucopia of new shows this week, including the long-awaited musical arrival of Susan Stroman’s take on Tim Burton, Tony Danza takes on New Joi-sey, Julius Caesar gets an estrogen makeover, and Janis Joplin takes another little piece of our hearts now baby! (Click on the links below to read the full reviews):

Big Fish  Daniel Wallace’s acclaimed book (which turned into Burton’s 2003 weepie) becomes an all singin’, all dancin’ mega-musical starring two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz. Did senior editor Thom Geier think it swam? “Big Fish finds theatrically inventive ways to reel audiences into its central love story”, he says, adding much praise for its energetic leading man, “with his stocky build, short stature, and thinning hair, Butz is an unlikely leading man, but he has the loose-limbed energy and charisma of a young Dick Van Dyke”. EW grade: B+

Honeymoon in Vegas  Tony Danza returns to the stage in this musical comedy as a shady gambler who has fallen head over heels with a woman, and Chaplin‘s Rob McClure as the young man determined not to let him take said gal from him. Did it live up to the well-liked 1992 film version with Nicolas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker? Thom Geier certainly thought so: “director Gary Griffin’s guffaw-out-loud production, playing through Oct. 27 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J., boasts an old-school showmanship and shtick-happy comic sensibility that recall the Sin City of the Brat Pack era.” EW grade: B+

Julius Caesar  Actress Harriet Walter and director Phyllida Lloyd (Mary Stuart) reunite for a female-centric take on the murderous Bard creation set in a women’s prison (that, sadly, has no traces of Pornstache or Officer Bennett). “As with many high-concept Shakespeare productions, Lloyd can stretch her gimmick to the breaking point”, says Thom Geier, but praises the audacity of the production overall, adding that  “this is a bracing approach to a familiar story”. EW grade: B+

A Night With Janis Joplin  After the long-running Off-Broadway hit Love, Janis several years ago, the unstoppable Janis Joplin returns in theatrical form, this time on Broadway with a full-length tale in her honor, belted out by the very game Mary Bridget Davies. Senior writer Melissa Maerz praised Ms Davies saying she’s “a genuine powerhouse” but takes issue with the the lack of detail in the production. “The raw ache in Davies’ phenomenal voice suggests that Joplin didn’t go out happily…but with such a shocking lack of context about Joplin’s life, [the show] feels like Davies is fronting an amazing tribute band, not a musical.” EW grade: C

Creators of Broadway's 'Big Fish' share how they translated movie magic to the stage

Even before Big Fish hit movie theaters in 2003, screenwriter John August knew its yarn-spinning hero was bound for Broadway. “You look at Edward Bloom’s stories…and they feel like production numbers,” says August. “There are moments when words fail you, and you break into song. That’s what [the film] was missing.”

Buoyed by a rash of screen-to-stage hits — including three of the last five Best Musical Tony winners (Kinky Boots, Once, and Billy Elliot) — Big Fish, the moving, epic tale of a father and son opens tonight at the Great White Way’s Neil Simon Theatre. “Broadway is a risky business,” admits producer Dan Jinks, “but if the show works… investors can make far more money than they would make traditionally on Wall Street, and I’ve just always had this tremendous belief in the story that we were telling.”

It didn’t hurt that Jinks and August stacked the deck by enlisting some stage pros for the live version of his film, including composer Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family) and Susan Stroman, the director-choreographer of 2001’s Tony-sweeping hit The Producers, which was itself based on Mel Brooks’ 1968 film. So how did August, Jinks, and Stroman combine movie magic with good, old-fashioned stagecraft to hook audiences in for their fantastical re-imagining? Read on… READ FULL STORY

'Big Fish' on Broadway: A musical sneak peek -- EXCLUSIVE

The splashy new musical version of Big Fish — the beloved 2003 Tim Burton film, as well as a heralded Daniel Wallace novel before that — is fully under way in previews at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre for an opening on Oct. 6. But you now have a cushy pre-opening seat (after the jump) to witness key moments from the new Susan Stroman-Andrew Lippa-John August tuner, which teases chorines, giants, acrobats, and elephants (oh my!), as well as the always-endearing glimpse of the inimitable Norbert Leo Butz tenderly essaying a catchy new song. And best of all, unlike the film, you don’t have to witness the irreversible sight of Danny DeVito’s bare bottom. Enjoy, stage fans!
READ FULL STORY

Watch a full musical number from 'Big Fish,' starring Norbert Leo Butz -- EXCLUSIVE

After a warm reception in Chicago this past spring, the musical adaptation of Tim Burton’s phantasmagorical 2003 film Big Fish will be hitting Broadway this fall, and EW has an exclusive clip to get you ready for the circus. Here in its entirety is “Time Stops”, featuring two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Catch Me If You Can) and Tony-nominee Kate Baldwin (Finian’s Rainbow), one of several new tunes penned by composer Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party). The production features a book by John August (who also wrote the film) and is directed and choreographed by five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman (The Producers).

Big Fish begins previews on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre on Sept. 5, with an opening scheduled for Oct. 6.

Click below to watch “Time Stops”:
READ FULL STORY

Listen to a song from new 'Big Fish' musical -- EXCLUSIVE

BIG-FISH-POSTER

Broadway fans, here’s a Monday morning treat. Norbert Leo Butz (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Catch Me If You Can) and Kate Baldwin (Giant, Finian’s Rainbow) are set to star in a musical version of Big Fish, and you can listen to a new song from the show, “Time Stops,” exclusively on EW.

The new musical, which will premiere in Chicago on April 2 and officially opens on Broadway in October, is based on the 2003 award-winning movie. The book for the musical was written by John August, who was also the screenwriter for the film. Big Fish will be directed and choreographed by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman (The Producers, The Scottsboro Boys), with music and lyrics by Grammy- and Tony-Award nominee Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party, The Addams Family).

Listen to “Time Stops” below: READ FULL STORY

'Big Fish' musical swimming to Broadway this fall

BIG-FISH

A fishy musical based on Tim Burton’s fantastical 2003 film is coming to the biggest pond of all — Broadway.

The show, which also incorporates material from Daniel Wallace’s original novel Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions, will open in the Neil Simon Theatre this October. Its Broadway run will be preceded by a five-week limited engagement at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre that begins in April.

Big Fish stars two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz as Edward Bloom, a charismatic storyteller whose tall tales have estranged him from his son Will (Bobby Steggert). As the elder Bloom’s health begins to fail, he decides to tell his child all about his eventful life — a saga featuring giants, werewolves, one-eyed witches, and his true love, Will’s mother, Sandra (Kate Baldwin).

READ FULL STORY

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