Making It Big: The Diary of a Broadway Musical

Barbara Isenberg, Author Limelight Editions $25 (214p) ISBN 978-0-87910-088-9
In a year when the downtown musicals Rent and Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk have electrified audiences in New York City, freelancer Isenberg unfortunately chose to track a far more conventional musical: Big, based on the popular movie starring Tom Hanks. As the title suggests, this is indeed a diary, with many episodic, telegraphic entries, offering an accumulation of detail (auditions, rehearsals, advertising, press coverage, tryouts, etc.) but little opportunity to develop characters, narrative or point of view. Still, for fans of Big or the musical form, Isenberg's story may entertain: in this case, a movie with no introspection had to be transformed with lyrics that dig deeper into a child's psychology. At tryouts in Detroit, the musical's creators adjusted lyrics, but reviews weren't good and the show's Manhattan opening was postponed for technical reasons. When it opened on Broadway in April 1996, one-third of the score had been changed. The New York Times praised Big, but others found it lagging behind Rent and Funk. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.) FYI: As this review goes to press, Big's producer, James Freydberg, announced the show's closing on October 13, after losing $10.3 million. There are plans, however, for national and international tours.
Reviewed on: 08/01/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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