By Jeff Gates For The Madison Press
April 10, 2014
Be careful what you wish for; it may actually come true.
The Jonathan Alder High School musicals are always a huge event around Madison County. But this year, this one is really ‘BIG’ as they present the theatrical adaptation of the 1980s Tom Hanks movie this weekend. The show — which opened last night with their always-popular dinner/theatre performance, continues tonight and Saturday evenings, with a Sunday matinee.
Once again, director Anne Gorman and choreographer Scott Jones have teamed with a plethora of talented youth for an action-packed evening of theatre.
The story centers around Josh Baskin, a diminutive preteen who is frustrated with being unable to impress the girl he likes. Thanks to a magical machine at a local carnival, Josh gets to experience his wish of being ‘big.’
Throughout the musical, Josh experiences the good and bad of adulthood. Meanwhile, he reminisces about the life he has sacrificed for his wish.
Thomas Urban is one of the gems of the show as he combines wide-eyed wonder with contagious enthusiasm as the transformed Josh. Urban displays a nice singing voice with great expressions to get the audience wrapped up in his magical journey.
With a pleasant singing voice, Jordan Headings is tremendous as grown-up Josh’s new friend Susan. The other gem of the show, Headings does a fine job displaying Susan’s desire to take a break from the tough corporate world and find herself.
The on-stage chemistry between Urban and Headings adds to the believability of the show. They combine for a number of poignant scenes.
Dillon Miller concludes a successful high school theatre career in style as toy store owner Macmillan. Miller displays his fluid dancing ability several times in the show, but most notably when he and Urban carefully prance across a giant keyboard.
Maddy Moore gives an emotional performance as Josh’s mother. Moore does a great job through song conveying to the audience his mother’s anguish.
Junior High School students Brady Troyer and John Coffey look like seasoned theatre veterans already in their roles of Young Josh and Josh’s best friend Billy, respectively.
In other supporting roles, Nick Beachy is appropriately-arrogant as Paul and Katie Davis is adorable as Young Josh’s crush Cynthia. Deserving special mention is the group of Noah Haines, Madison Wells, Kyle Hustek, Mackenzie Moore, Adam Wheelbarger, and Natalie Hustek as Susan’s snobby (but musically talented) friends.
The other cast members nicely fill other roles ranging from executives to parents to carnival workers.
There are a number of fine high energy moments in the show, accentuated by the first act finale, ‘Cross the Line,’ featuring the 80-plus member cast ranging in age from fifth through 12th grades.
Colorful costumes, striking sets, a talented orchestra and some delightful ’80s memorabilia complete the picture.
Take the ‘Big’ leap this weekend with the actors of Jonathan Alder to a fun-filled show.