‘Big Fish’ opens April 25

‘Big Fish’ opens April 25

calendar icon28 Mar 2024    

The Nebraska Repertory Theatre and Glenn Korff School of Music opera program present "Big Fish" April 25-May 4 in Howell Theatre.
The Nebraska Repertory Theatre and Glenn Korff School of Music opera program present "Big Fish" April 25-May 4 in Howell Theatre.

Lincoln, Neb.--The Nebraska Repertory Theatre, in partnership with UNL Opera in the Glenn Korff School of Music, presents “Big Fish.”

Performances are April 25-May 4 in Howell Theatre. For showtimes and tickets, visit https://nebraskarep.org.

“Big Fish” is a fantastical musical that revolves around the extraordinary life of Edward Bloom, a charismatic storyteller with a penchant for embellishment. As his son, Will, attempts to separate fact from fiction, the musical takes the audience on a magical journey through a world of tall tales, love and reconciliation while celebrating the power of imagination.

It is directed by Assistant Professor of Practice in Theatre Ann Marie Pollard with musical direction by Assistant Professor of Voice Suna Gunther. The production will also feature projections designed by Assistant Professor of Practice in Emerging Media Arts Anna Henson.

“’Big Fish’ is a story about love, loss, self-discovery, compassion and finding a family in unexpected ways,” said Jacob Vanderford, an advertising and public relations and broadcasting major with minors in music and global leadership from Lincoln, who plays Will. “The story is about the idea that, as we grow older, we have these huge ideals for what we want our life to be, and sometimes we lose sight of what’s most important to us—the people—rather than whether to believe in the tales they tell.”

Vanderford said he thinks of Will as sort of a Sherlock Holmes type character.

“He is constantly seeking to solve the mystery that surrounds his father, Edward,” he said. “Throughout the course of his life, he has heard these wild stories about how his father was a larger-than-life hero figure. But Will believes that his father lives in a fantasy, and he is constantly trying to break down the façade and find a connection through the realism of his father’s life.”

Hannah Yohe, a junior voice major from Kansas City, Missouri, plays Jenny.

“Jenny is a simple Southern girl at heart, but she has overcome a lot in her life,” she said. “Despite experiencing heartbreak and abandonment on multiple occasions, she cares deeply about people and just wishes to experience the simple pleasures of life.”

Yohe said the music in “Big Fish” is a standout of the production.

“I adore the music in this show, and I absolutely can’t wait to see it come alive on stage,” she said. “Audiences should expect a good time filled with catchy music, comedy, and a colorful, electric atmosphere.”

Annie von Kampen, a music education senior from North Platte, Nebraska, plays Josephine.

“Josephine is Will’s newly wedded wife. She is naturally one of Will’s strongest pillars of support through his final journeys with his father and challenges him to think about the subtext of his father’s seemingly outlandish stories in a different way to understand the true meaning behind them and make peace before it’s too late. She is inquisitive, a mediator and a natural problem-solver.”

Noah Stussie, a senior voice major from Lawrence, Kansas, plays Don Price.

“Don Price is a bully who grows up alongside Edward in Ashton, Alabama,” he said. “He tries to assert his authority over Edward by verbally or physically attacking him. He later becomes the mayor of Ashton. There’s a huge team of very creative people working on this project, and it’s been fun seeing ideas blend together.”

Stussie said audiences should expect to feel several different emotions in the course of the musical.

“Edward tends to have a very creative and colorful view of the world, while Will is much more grounded in reality, creating a contrast in tone,” he said.

Vanderford is looking forward to the interdisciplinary collaboration needed for musical theatre.

“Performing in musical theatre is one of my favorite things to do, mainly because of that collaborative piece,” he said. “Through music, dance and acting, musical theatre is truly one of the most collaborative, yet demanding, art forms you can find. We spend months on end with the same group of people, building bonds and trust on and off stage, and then once the show ends, that same group of people will never be in the same cast again. In some respects, I think this is similar to the theme of our show. Cherish the time you have with one another and go on adventures that will create memories you can hold onto.”

Von Kampen said she loves the collaborative aspect of the production.

“There are so many creative minds from the Johnny Carson School, the Glenn Korff School of Music, and emerging media arts, and it’s a real showcase of talent,” she said. “On the day of our table read, the production designers for the show presented their storyboards for the visual design aspect of the show, and I was simply blown away. Audiences should expect to be pulled into this story with vibrant visuals and music, while presenting the sensitivity of the plot’s messaging.”

Yohe said, “It’s been amazing to meet people from other areas and make music with them. What I love about theatre is that it brings so many different elements and different kinds of people from different backgrounds together to create something so beautiful.”

As a senior, this will be Vanderford’s final production as a student.

“Going out with a bang, for sure,” he said. “Over the past few months, I’ve taken time to look around campus and really soak everything in, because time is fading fast on my senior year. My sophomore year of college, I was part of “She Loves Me” through UNL Opera, and it’s so interesting to see how full circle this has become, where I basically started my college career with a musical and ended it with a musical.”

He said it just shows that theatre is metaphorical.

“It is this metaphor for life that we can all come together in one space, pour our hearts and souls into a work of art and give a piece of ourselves to our audience every night,” he said. “Vulnerability really is the arrow to connection. Reflecting on my time at UNL, I am so thankful that I chose to continue to bleed Husker Red, and I will never forget my time on campus. Now, it’s time for one last ride, and I can’t wait to share ‘Big Fish’ with our audiences this spring.”