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Behind the scenes of 'Big Fish'

Director Susan Stroman and scenic director Julian Crouch talk about creating the fantasy elements of pre-Broadway world premiere musical, "Big Fish"

March 27, 2013|By Julia Borcherts, @JuliaBorcherts | For RedEye

When producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen made the decision to turn their 2003 film "Big Fish"—a Southern Gothic fantasy adventure about a son who attempts to come to terms with his dying father Edward Bloom's tall tales—into a musical, their first choice to direct and choreograph the production was Susan Stroman.

They feared that the Tony Award-winner would be too in-demand to accept, but Stroman was on board from the get-go. "I had seen the movie and loved it," Stroman said after a news conference at the Oriental Theatre. "It does lend itself beautifully to a musical because of the storytelling. And to be able to now have someone tell a story and then create it in front of the audience's eyes as it happens, that's what I love to do!"

And so, just as she did with "The Producers" back in 2001, Stroman and her team have brought "Big Fish" to Chicago for its pre-Broadway world premiere. "It's great because when you are creating a musical, the last part of the process is the audience," she said. "Here's the thing, though—audiences here [in Chicago] understand theater. They love the theater; they're not dragged to the theater. And this is the place to try out. It was the Chicago audiences that sent us on to Broadway with 'The Producers,' you know."

So how do you make all those fantasy elements come to life onstage? We sat down with Stroman and scenic designer Julian Crouch to find out.
>>Read their comments alongside production photos.

DETAILS
"Big Fish"
Go: 7:30 p.m. April 2 through May 5 at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St.
Tickets: $33-$100; $29 for students April 2-5 with discount code UNIVERSITY. 800-775-2000; broadwayinchicago.com

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