Now the film comes to the stage in a musical adaptation that comes to London after opening at the Theatre Royal Plymouth in 2016. With a flashy set heavy on video projections and a cast peppered with TV stars, the show feels energetic yet rather hollow on the Dominion Stage.
We follow a kid called Josh Baskin, who finds a strange fortune-telling machine at a fun fair and makes a wish to be big. When he wakes up with the large, hairy body of a man (and very, very tight pyjamas), Josh must navigate employment and responsibility. But as he infiltrates the adult world, Josh’s youthful enthusiasm and innocence has a lasting impact on those around him.
Jay McGuiness, who is best known as part of boyband The Wanted and winner of 2015’s Strictly Come Dancing, takes on the role immortalised by a young Tom Hanks.
McGuiness conveys the inner child with easy comedy and wide-eyed wonder. There is charismatic support from Matthew Kelly (Stars in Their Eyes) as a jaded CEO of a toy company who rediscovers the art of having fun, and from former Girls Aloud band member Kimberley Walsh as colleague and love interest Susan.
The scene where McGuiness and Kelly lollop around on a giant piano is charming, as is a romantic ballroom routine between McGuiness and Walsh. So often it is Morgan Young’s vibrant choreography that elevates the storyline that most audience members remember from the movie.
The songs are less striking: the peppy combination of ensemble numbers and ballads are serviceable, but forgettable. And the plot doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. There are a few relatable moments – what kid hasn’t yearned to take charge? What adult hasn’t felt like an imposter in a world of jargon and deadlines? But mostly the movie plot is stretched very thinly in a long show.
It's impossible to emotionally invest in a love story between a powerful businesswoman and a man with an emotional age of 12. It's all a bit icky and the addition of swoony songs doesn't help.
Ultimately, the story doesn’t gain much from its musical theatre re-imagining, nor does the show really make sense of why this particular 80s movie is worth paying £££ to see on stage.
But thanks to lively performances and some slick dancing, fans of the film will get their nostalgia kick and a new generation of kids will realise that growing up isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
|What||Big, Dominion Theatre review|
|Where||Dominion Theatre, 268-269 Tottenham Court Rd, London, W1T 7AQ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Oxford Circus (underground)|
06 Sep 19 – 02 Nov 19, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information and tickets|