Dance elements put 'Big' production in motion

imageChoreographer Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell describes the dance element in the upcoming SUNY Oswego production of “Big: The Musical” as “the universal language, where dance reinforces the struggle of adolescence, and the age-old struggle of the rite of passage.”

The production will open Feb. 25 and run consecutive weekends through March 6 in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

“This show can remind us of our own childhood experiences” when “to be an adult seemed so magical and so perfect,” said director Jonel Langenfeld-Rial.

In the musical, Josh Baskin discovers that being “big” has its share of challenges and that maybe being a kid isn’t so bad after all.  Based on the 1988 hit film starring Tom Hanks, “Big: The Musical” follows the story of the 13-year-old boy’s carnival wish to be grown up and escape the frustrating world of being young. 

Wilkins-Mitchell and Langenfeld-Rial chose to express this youthful struggle for independence in the show’s choreography through the incorporation of hip-hop dance. “This revolutionary dance form allows Josh the free expression throughout the musical characterized by various moods,” Wilkins-Mitchell explained.

“Hip-hop dance was the perfect choice for this storytelling—it’s an African-American social dance that was being embraced by suburban youth in the 1990s,” when this production is set, she added. “Also called ‘street dance’ or ‘urban dance,’ hip hop has a high-energy dance style with an ‘in-your-face’ attitude that is rebellious, making social commentary and reflecting reality.”

Audiences will also see traditional dancing, such as ballroom, during a scene that features a corporate party. More than 20 cast members create the supporting ensemble for the story.

A preview performance of “Big: The Musical” will be staged at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, with all seats available for $6.

The show will continue with 8 p.m. curtain times Feb. 25 and 26 and March 4 and 5. A Sunday matinee March 6 will begin at 2 p.m.  Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $7 for SUNY Oswego students.

For information and reservations, call the Tyler Hall box office at 312-2141.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Toy time—The SUNY Oswego theatre production of “Big: The Musical,” opening Feb. 25, explores what happens when 13-year-old Josh Baskin wakes up as a 30-year-old and runs off to New York City, where he lands a job as an idea man at MacMillan Toy Co. Standing are Kat Schwartz as a toy soldier, Ryan Powers as grown-up Josh, Kathryn Kobos as another toy soldier and Nikki Salisbury as a French doll. In front are Greg Salmon as a safari action figure, Ryan Sprague as a polar bear and Lucaya Luckey-Bethany as a tiger.

(Posted: Feb 15, 2005)