WHEN Newcastle-trained musical theatre performer Seth Drury won a role in the Australian premiere production of the musical Big Fish director, Tyran Parke told him he would have to learn how to stilt walk.
While Drury is tall, he plays a character known as Karl the Giant. In the show, which opens at Sydney’s Hayes Theatre on April 18, the stilts increase his height to 2.6 metres.
Tyran Parke, who also hails from Newcastle, has established an international reputation as an actor and director.
His success in performing leading roles in musicals throughout Australia and New Zealand, including the Australian premiere of Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, led to him meeting Sondheim in his New York home in 2007 when he was one of 35 people chosen from around the world to participate in that city in a Yale University cabaret training event.
Drury, like Parke, is now based in Melbourne, and has won acclaim touring one-man cabarets around Australia, including Bring Back the Baritone, which he premiered in Newcastle in December, 2015.
The musical Big Fish was adapted by composer Andrew Lippa from a novel and film of the same name. It shows the troubled relationship between a newly-wed young man, Will Bloom, who is about to become a parent, and his father, Edward.
When Will was a child, Edward tried to brighten his life by telling him stories about a tribe of witches, a cave-dwelling giant, a mermaid, and a man fired out of a canon, among others. Will didn’t believe the stories, but his encounters as an adult reveal that the people exist.
The Hayes Theatre staging of Big Fish is the world premiere of a revised version of the musical. The original production, which premiered on Broadway in 2013, had a big cast and elaborate sets, but was a box-office flop despite good reviews.
Tyran Parke said the new version has 14 actors, some new songs and sets and costumes, which while they colourfully show Will’s perceptions of the people his father talked about, make use of the designers’ talents rather than costing a huge amount.
“It’s a family show with a lot of magic to it,” he said.
The season runs to May 14.