It’s pretty big

Chico Theater Company’s take on Big movie is entertaining

Chico Theater Company’s big! the musical is based on the movie Big, in which an unhappy, puny boy makes a wish at an amusement park fortune telling machine, called Zoltar, to make himself—you guessed it—big. The next day, the boy wakes up, and he is the adult Josh Baskin but with his 12-year-old brain intact. Since his mom doesn’t recognize him and kicks him out, Baskin must figure out a way to live as a grownup until his best friend can help him find another Zoltar machine and he can wish himself back to being a kid again.

Although a musical-theater version of a Tom Hanks comedy may seem a little odd, big! did have a short run on Broadway, and, according to Chico Theater Company director Marc C. Edson, is now often done by community theaters. Edson’s production of the musical is pretty entertaining, despite the absence of Tom Hanks.

Here we have Kevin White doing a solid job as young Josh Baskin and Brandon Morgan playing Josh’s best friend Billy Kopecki with the requisite attitude (although he spends too much time with one hand on his hip). Morgan does shine on the song, “It’s Time,” in which he wears sunglasses and sings, “Nothing worse than a little white Polish boy from Jersey talkin’ rap.”

White shows his precocity well in the emotional song, “I Want to Know,” describing his feelings as big Josh (played with wide-eyed, red-faced glee by Marty Parker) and Susan (Lily Lauer) dance, the energy between them finally culminating in a very touching kiss.

While Lauer’s singing is a little inconsistent, she makes up for it with her grace and ease of movement within the choreography and in her sincerity as Josh’s love interest.

Josh’s mom is played by Lydie Kerby Bassow, who has a nice voice and connects with the sentimental aspects of playing a worried mother well. Especially good is Roy Starring as George MacMillan, owner of the toy company that hires the big Josh Baskin as its executive vice president in charge of testing the “funness” of its toys.

As the big Josh, Parker is quite good, especially in scenes with Staring (I love the piano duet) and with Lauer, but also worth mentioning is Sam Ayres, who plays three roles, including Zoltar ("Saddam Hussein in a wedding dress!" according to Billy). This company has done a fine job of producing an entertaining musical from an unlikely source.