Big Fish: A Tale of Connection, Love, and Family

Monday, March 1, 2021

Big Fish logoA fun and enjoyable experience. An awesome way to spend a weekend. One hundred-percent student-run, put together during a pandemic, with so much work put in by the cast and production teams. And best of all, a “once in a lifetime opportunity! This is the first time Big Fish the Musical will be presented as a movie,” Grebel student, and member of the musical production team, Hannah Bernstein said.

This past year has proven difficult for everyone. But despite the challenges, and thoughts that it wouldn’t happen, the Conrad Grebel University College student-run musical team hopes to bring joy and excitement to our lives in a time of great stress with the virtual 2021 musical, Big Fish. Director Josh Rampersad explained the musical will tell “a larger than life tale of a story-teller and his son learning about fatherhood, mortality, and what it means to leave a legacy.”

“We follow Will, an expectant father, as he works to reconcile and understand his father in the short time they have left,” production team member Bronwyn Erb added. “Connection, love and family are universal themes that are unpacked, interspersed with amazing stories.” These themes are an important part of our society, and especially relevant now, where loneliness due to isolation and fear for the ones we love is such an issue. Family, love, and connection are driving forces of our lives, and this touching musical shows that there is always hope and there is always someone who cares.

Initially, as many other live events were cancelled around them, the musical team wasn’t confident that their show would survive. But they did not let these fears stop them. They sat down and discussed creative ways to produce their piece in a virtual setting, and before long, the pieces started falling into place. “The core team’s determination really shone through as everyone was willing to make it work,” Bronwyn said.

video rehearsalThe entire musical team has employed a variety of inventive ways to adapt the musical to work in an online setting. “Due to the pandemic, everything is being coordinated and done remotely,” Josh said. “Rehearsals have now become recording sessions, and we have a whole new team that edits all the recordings together.” In order to convey realistic sightlines and actions, cast members have assigned inanimate objects to be the different characters they interact with and use mirrors so that they can see themselves.

Production team members and editors have applied many of their technology-related skills to piece everything together. “Since we want to capture actor reactions throughout an entire scene, we have had to record synchronously so the actors can hear each other and react with correct timing,” Hannah explained. “We used different editing techniques to help create the illusion that the actors can see and interact with each other,” Bronwyn added.

While the move online and increased amount of work has proven difficult, it has also given the editors an opportunity to add creative effects into the musical that they would have otherwise been unable to do in a live setting. “Working with the director Josh, we added in some fantastical elements with digital effects to help set the stage for this musical,” Bronwyn said.

selah practicingCast member Selah Woelk added, “This show, and the video format, is also a marker of the times; it demonstrates the way that art can be made in the midst of unforeseen and unprecedented circumstances.”

The musical may be virtual, but the presence of community continues to surround all who are involved, filling them with happiness and excitement for the upcoming show. “Having the chance to act and make music, even in this online format, has been a lot of fun,” Selah said. “It has been a great way to connect with other Grebelites, both fostering community and showcasing what the Grebel community can do!”

The Big Fish production will be live-streamed throughout the weekend of March 19 to 21, with afternoon show times at 2pm and evening show times at 7pm. Tickets are available to purchase for $10 for individuals, $15 for pairs, and $20 for groups through BookTix.

“Everyone can get something from this musical,” Bronwyn said, “and with our live-streaming format, you can watch our fantastic actors bring it to life from you living room!”

If you want to see a Grebel musical like no other, this is definitely your chance to do so. So many members of the community have come together to put together a show that will exceed what many would think possible during a pandemic. You’ll get to see the familiar faces of the Grebelites you know and love on screen while also appreciating all of the handiwork of the production team in the form of editing, costumes, and props. -- Josh Rampersad

Written by Jace Jaeden Ellis

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