The Musical Big is for Kids and Adults

25 October 2018, 1:00
The Musical Big is for Kids and Adults

Brno City Theatre has come out with another premiere of a Czech musical in the form of Big. This musical novelty, taken from the film of the same name, will entertain children, adolescents and their parents. This musical tale is truly for all the generations. Big is a family comedy, in places also a fantasy spectacle, in others a romantic sweet piece about love or an exciting story of an impatient little boy, in which however all ends well.

This is how it is if a child wants to grow up at once… This story of a child, not yet thirteen, who has his wish to be an adult granted by a fairground machine, was a hit movie with Tom Hanks at the end of the eighties. Little John Baskin wakes up in the body of a thirty-year-old man. But there is one little catch. The young man remains in spirit a child, which in the complicated adult world represents for the main hero more than a few problems, not only in his love life but also in terms of the social and working worlds.

The musical adaptation of the famous film from 1988 had its premiere on Broadway in 1996 and was nominated straight off for five Tony Awards (in the end they mostly won by the musical Rent, which will be premiered by the Brno City theatre in a few days’ time). How did the production turn out under the direction of Petr Gazdík?

The production team tried in this musical to underline the playful dimension of this musical comedy; alongside its humour the audience is also to feel the magic of the sets and lights, as well as the energy of the dance numbers from the adult and also the children’s companies.  And paradoxically despite a certain sparseness of events, the musical sweetness of the tale and many seemingly deep song lyrics on the whole they have managed it.

The renowned musical creators David Shire (music) and Richard Maltby Jr. (lyrics) in cooperation with the screenwriter John Weidman modified the film script, which faithfully copies the original. And in a similar way it set off for Brno: the magical slot machine with the secret Zoltar is pretty much the same as the original one from the screen. These are not important facts – more important is that Gazdík prepared a briskly flowing piece, which entertains not only with the famous scene from the toyshop, in which the protagonist hops out the melody of the popular song Heart and Soul on a giant keyboard.

The production of Big won me over, despite some significant misgivings in places over the quality of the text (director Petr Gazdík worked with Karel Škarka on the Czech translation), with the truly energetic choreography of Carli Rebecca Jefferson, the sets by Emil Konečný and the musical production by Dan Kalousek and Jakub Žídek here played by a thirty-five piece orchestra with an excellent sound.

In the crowd scenes Gazdík worked with a large group of almost thirty children and their expressive movement is infectious. The adults also dance and on stage alongside rap there are some interesting creations dominated by step, jazz, modern or for example street dance. The choreography here is full of emotion and energy and gives this fairy-tale musical its necessary earthly juice.

The final scene uses only big things, like bridge arches, interestingly lit. These arched wings are the perfect backdrop fora story of New York and at the same time a fantastic tale. I have reservations about the grey costumes by Eliška Ondráčková Lupačová, since a tale for children would be better suited by stronger or unrestrained colourfulness.

As is usually the case in the Brno City Theatre Brno, thanks to its busy schedule, here the main roles are also alternated. This comes of course from necessity (before the premiere one of the actors playing the main role of Susan broke her leg and so the second actor for that role actually saved the premiere and further performances of the musical). The main children’s role is taken by turn by the director’s ten-year-old sons Adam and Josef Gazdík, who can be in places criticised for their singing, but these shortcomings are overcome by the confidence of their presence and speech on stage. The main role of the big John Baskin is a welcome opportunity to fully utilise the acting, dancing and singing talents of Brožek, who contributes far more than just his youthful appearance. Viktória Matušovová was also exactly right in her singing and acting in the role of Susan, who is desperately in love with this overgrown child and at the end must find a way to escape from this sweet feeling.

The production team promised a magical tale about the fulfilling of wishes for young and old, which enchants with wonderful music, fantastic dance numbers and kindly humour. Putting on such a family musical in the run-up to Christmas is a sure thing, and not just in terms of the theatre’s revenues. It needs to be said that the three-hundred-times performed and now-ended Mary Poppins now has a worthy successor, which fortunately is not so immaturely overdone in its production as Děsnej pátek (Awful Friday), which is also aimed at the whole family.

Photo from the Brno City Theatre archive

Comments

Reply

No comment added yet..

This year, the JazzFestBrno festival has expanded its offer to include an "electronic" programme line named Tension. Within that series, the bands Zabelov Group and HRTL Spaghetti Ensemble appeared  in the Praha space in Brno on 28 March. However, the two-hour concert, which took place on 5 April in the sold-out Sono Centre, was also ideologically close to this new series. The Manchester-based trio GoGo Penguin perhaps uses an instrumental layout of a jazz piano trio vetted by decades, but still oscillates around electronic music as a starting point in its albums and concerts.   more

Even though the audience's attention is generally focused on music ensembles that have already been vetted by time, yesterday's concert of the newly formed Camerata Brunensis ensemble in the Historical Hall of the Brno Bishop's Court proved that even young blood can offer a remarkable artistic experience. The concert was programmed  in cooperation with the Moravian Regional Museum and the Academy of Early Music at Masaryk University, which the Camerata Brunensis‘ artists attend. The ensemble consists of soprano Veronika Vojířová, who performed for example with ensembles like Collegium Marianum, Collegium Floreum, Capella Regia Prague or Cappella Mariana, and the flutist Michaela Durajová, who could be listened to by audiences with the Orchestral Academy of the Brno Philharmonic, the Moravian Philharmonic Olomouc, the Czech Virtuosi orchestra or with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Also, the double bassist and violonist  Matyáš Berdych regularly appears with important music ensembles such as Musica Florea, Collegium Marianum and Czech Ensemble Baroque. The backbone of the ensemble is formed by the harpsichordist Jan Hajič, who works as a répétiteur for the Prague choir Vagantes, accompanies concerts and master classes at the Prague Conservatory, and works as a backup organist at the Prague Academic Parish under the guidance of Robert Hugo.  more

Filip Míšek and Ema Brabcová have worked together for as many as twenty years already. They met each other back in 1999 in the group Roe-Deer, as part of which they created their own project called Khoiba. Under this name they released their albums Nice Traps (2004) and Mellow Drama (2007), shone on the domestic scene and drew attention to themselves in neighbouring Germany, but then each of the protagonists set out on their own paths – Filip came up with the solo project Dikolson and Ema was active first in the group Luno and later became part of The Antagonists under the leadership of Jan P. Muchow. Only in January 2019 did the resurrected Khoiba draw attention to itself – first with the single Log and two months later with the album Khoiba. As part of an intensive spring concert the duo is also coming to perform in Brno. The concert will take place in Kabinet múz on 24 April and supporting Khoiba will be Jan Boroš with Čáry života [Life Lines], this year’s winner of the Apollo award.  more

Each premiere from the Ondráš Military Art Ensemble is an event that sparks great interest from folk fans. It was no different on Thursday in the slightly cramped quarters of the Divadlo Bolka Polívky theatre. The concert carrying the title Through the Landscape of Time had already been sold out a month ahead.  more

Yesterday’s concert from the Principal Conductor’s series of the Brno Philharmonic presented Yumi Hwang-Williams, concertmaster of the Colorado Symphonic Orchestra, in an intimately conceived programme. Together with the principal conductor of the Brno philharmonic, Dennis Russel Davies, she performed several classical and contemporary works composed for violin and piano. In this, the Brno audience had a chance to see the soloist before she plays tomorrow together with the Brno Philharmonic.  more

In an almost four-hour long programme, both audience and performers celebrated the 80th birthday of Horňácko folk legend Martin Hrbáč in Veselí nad Moravou. The concert that took place on Sunday 24 March, and was not only historic in its length but more importantly in the range of folk legends appearing on stage.  more

The piano recital by the chief conductor of the Brno Philharmonic Denis Russell Davies and his wife the pianist Maki Namekawa yesterday in Besední dům offered three works by three significant figures from American minimalism. The concert included minimalist works by Steve Reich in the shape of Piano Phase, the composition Hallelujah Junction by John Adams and Four Movements for Two Pianos by Philip Glass.  more

The JAZZFESTBRNO Festival is expanding this year with the new Tension programme line, which will feature musicians on the borderline between jazz and electronic music. One of the performers who will appear on 28 March in the Praha space in Brno will be the Czech-Ukrainian duo Zabelov Group, which has recently released a new album called Eg. This interview with Roman Zabelov (accordion, voice, piano, organ, harp…) and Jan Šikl (drums, trumpet, guitar, percussion…) was done in a Prague café just before a rehearsal of the band.

Evenings of  the cycle named Music Stocktaking of the Brno-based orchestra Ensemble Opera Diversa regularly bring to light various half-forgotten works by Czech composers. This Tuesday's concert in the concert hall of the Convent of Merciful Brother [Konvent Milosrdných bratří] became a commemorative tribute to the anniversary of the tragic years 1939 and 1969. Violinist Milan Paľa and pianists Kristýna Znamenáčková and Lucie Pokorná performed alongside the orchestra. The performance was conducted by the permanent conductor of the orchestra Gabriela Tardonová.  more

Bára Zmeková is releasing her new album called LUNAVES these days. She will officially present it in Brno as well. The launch of the album will take place in the Kabinet múz on Tuesday 19 March.  more

The ensemble Šafrán from Moravian Slovakia is already a traditional organiser of the Brno “fašank“. This event, in the spirit of folk traditions, always takes place on Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and it marks the beginning of Christian fasting. Its roots go back to the pagan times, but it is now part of Christian feasts almost all over the world. Marches of masks in various regions of Moravia are called končiny, masopust, fašanek or, for example, šibřinky. Its  ensemble parallel in Brno tries to stick to the folk pattern. It begins with a parade in  Náměstí svobody Square. This year it continued through the Alfa Mall to the market building at the Cabbage Market. The end of the programme was performed by the ensemble Lučina, which showed the audience the so-called burial of a double bass. It is a custom consisting in a staged burial of this musical instrument, symbolising  the end of entertainment, calming down and preparing for Easter.  more

"In the past, old people used to be as old as we allegedly are today" sings Slávek Janoušek in his song Alzheimer and Parkinson. The songwriter, who celebrated his 65th birthday last September, found aging as an extremely powerful theme for his new album. Tohle je vzkaz [This Is a Message] is an album not only about incrementing years of age, but also about how we increasingly appreciate our families and our  roots as we “grow old“. Although we can find very strong moments in all Janoušek's albums, Tohle je vzkaz can be perceived as the third part of the trilogy of his most powerful recordings – Kdo  to zavinil [Whose Fault  Is It] (1988), Tancuj a zpívej [Dance and Sing] (1997) and Tohle je vzkaz [This Is a Message] (2018).  more

In the hall of Blahoslav House (the centre for the Evangelical Church of the Czech Brethren) yesterday evening there were performances of religious works from the late Renaissance and the early Baroque by the chamber choir Ensemble Versus and the period instruments ensemble Castello in Aria. Both bodies were conducted by the artistic director Vladimír Maňas. In yesterday’s programme there were both proven works and unknown ones by rarely performed European composers.  more

Yesterday Brno City Theatre gave the European premiere of the musical The Last Ship, written by the world-famous musician Sting. It is a mixture of his wonderful music drawn from British folk, a successfully and honestly told tale and also a strong acting performance, which should guarantee the production’s successful voyage to the audience.  more

The web portal Brno – Music Friendly City is celebrating its sixth birthday. As a symbolic present to our readers we are bringing you the first of our regular monthly contributions from the Brno dramatist, writer and screenwriter Milan Uhde. He will be sharing his memories and thoughts as well as descriptions of current events in the field of culture in Brno. His theme today is the Janáček Brno festival.  more

Editorial

The ArtBar club in Brno hosts another Funky Night. Funky Chicken, Brass Avenue and Michael V of J.A.R, called Helicopter will appear. The event will feature well-known funky hits as well as completely new ones; the concerts will be accompanied by video projections and a light show.  more

For the eighth year running, Czech Ensemble Baroque under the baton of Roman Válek has been performing a subscription series of early music entitled Bacha na Mozarta! (in Czech, this is a pun meaning both "Bach on Mozart!" and "Beware of Mozart!"). The advanced sales of tickets for this cycle will begin as part of the closing concert of the Easter Festival of Sacred Music, where the orchestra will perform Bach's Easter Oratorio. The dramaturgy of the eighth season features, for example, Mozart's Requiem, a Baroque fashion show, Te Deum Three Times Differently, and a vocal concert.  more

The Brno City Theatre is holding auditions for the main and supporting roles for the new musical now being prepared, Mamma Mia!, which is to have its premiere in October 2019.  more

This year the festival programme includes musical works from the 7th century to the present. Gregorian chants, a setting of Book of Lamentations from the 10th century, Renaissance Rome, the orthodox repertoire, 18th century services from the Moravian countryside, organ pieces and contemporary works. The festival will also for the first time be welcomed into the church on Josefská street.  more

The chamber opera The Secret Marriage (Il Matrimonio segreto) by Doménico Cimarosa has been produced by students of the Music and Theatre faculties of the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in the Italian original. The premiere will take place in the Divadlo na Orlí theatre.  more

Jakub Hrůša will become the fifth Chief Conductor and the musical director of the prominent German orchestra the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra Players – the Bavarian State Philharmonic Orchestra (Bamberger Symphoniker – Bayerische Staatsphilharmonie) in the 2016/2017 season. It was announced today during the morning ceremony, which was attended by Jakub Hrůša himself, by Bavaria’ Minister of Culture Dr. Ludwig Spaenle together with Marcus Rudolf Axt, Chief Executive.  more

The choir at VUT in Brno is seeking new vocal talent. The audition will take place next week.  more

The 21st edition of this competition is being organized by the Musical faculty of the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno. The competition focusing on young artists playing the violin and on string quartets is being held in cooperation with the Leoš Janáček Foundation.  more

The club, which is starting its 25th concert season, has been reconstructed and is now reopening to jazz musicians from both the domestic and foreign scene. The season will introduce bands as well as individuals such as Ostrich Quartet, Ambrose Akinmusire, Robert Balzar Trio, Vilém Spilka Quartet or Nuf Said.  more

The current 17th year of the festival is divided into two parts. The first part, called Intake of Breath, will take place during October and it will be the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Filigrán dance ensemble. The other part, called Exhalation, will introduce international guests and dance themed movies in November.  more