Synopses & Reviews
Long-time theatre writer and Los Angeles Times correspondent Barbara Isenberg received rare access to every aspect of the creative process and the financial planning that went into Big...The Musical. "Marvelous. Barbara Isenberg's precise and perceptive account of Big from its birth pangs to its final delivery is a gripping tale of blood, sweat and toys." -Larry Gelbart
How does one of Broadway's most anticipated musicals end up folding its tent after just six months and with a potential loss of more than $10 million? In Barbara Isenberg's behind-the-scenes account, readers follow step by step as Big, the musical struggles against nearly insuperable odds. The long-awaited stage adaptation of the popular Tom Hanks film was not to have an easy journey. Led by the highly-regarded Crazy for You duo of director Mike Ockrent and choreographer Susan Stroman, the show's cast and crew had some very bad luck heading for Broadway with one of the most expensive, high-profile musicals in recent history. In this authoritative, insightful and readable journal, we go backstage as the $10.3 million production is cast, rewritten, rehearsed and performed, first in Detroit, then in New York. Doors are opened to high pressure rehearsals, passionate advertising debates, stern budget talks and endless rewrite sessions in out-of-town hotel rooms. Day by day diary entries report the high hopes and deep disappointments of Ockrent, Stroman, producer James Freydberg, playwright John Weidman, composer David Shire and lyricist Richard Maltby, Jr., as they take on blizzards, set glitches, indifferent audiences, even a convention of witches at their Detroit hotel. Maltby and Shire turn out 58 songs, leading lady Crista Moore has to learn 5 different opening ballads and leading man Daniel Jenkins has knee surgery just weeks before opening night. Postponed from fall, 1995, to spring, 1996, Big was pilloried in Detroit, then substantially reworked for Broadway. But by the time it arrived, Broadway had changed even more than it had. From the minimal competition expected at the start ofits odyssey, Big faced and was shunted aside by two of the most innovative and critically successful musicals of recent memory, Rent and Bring in 'de Noise, Bring in 'da Funk. Big became not an instant classic, but in the words of Julie Andrews about her own show, Victor/Victoria, "egregiously overlooked". Making It Big illuminates the harsh realities of musical theater - a much-loved but high-stakes, high-risk art form. It is a book for everyone who cares about Broadway musicals and their survival.