Big, the Musical
A musical in 2 acts, 14 scenes; Book by John Weidman. Music by David Shire. Lyrics by Richard Maltby: Based on the Twentieth Century Fox film of the same name.
Sam S. Shubert Theatre, New York 28 April, 1996 (193 perfs)
BIG premiered at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit on February 13, 1996, prior to its Broadway opening at the Shubert Theatre on April 28, 1996. The revised version played its first performance at the Playhouse Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on September 26, 1997.
The 1987 hit movie bursts on-stage in this vibrant, tuneful, funny and touching musical by three of Broadway's modern masters. When frustrated adolescent Josh Baskin wishes he were "big" and wakes up the next morning a 30 year-old man, he discovers there's much more to being an adult than he'd bargained for - and learns we must all grow up at our own pace, in our own time. A witty, moving, insightful book and a dazzling, energetic, heartfelt, contemporary score make this already-classic motion picture fantasy into an unforgettable theatrical experience.
Josh Baskin, a 12-year-old New Jersey boy, finds that whenever he sees pretty 13-year-old Cynthia Benson, he is unaccountably speechless. He doesn't understand his new feelings, but every family on the street knows what has occurred. For Josh, childhood has ended; adolescence has occurred, and the long complex process of growing up has begun. Then Josh receives amazing news from his best friend, Billy Kopecki: Cynthia Benson thinks Josh is "cute." All Josh has to do is make a move tonight at the carnival. But making his move does not turn out as planned. Meeting Cynthia in line for a ride called Wild Thunder, Josh musters enough courage to "talk to her", only to find that she has a date who is 16. Worse, Josh is not big enough to be allowed on the ride. Humiliated, Josh skateboards away-and finds himself in a secluded byway of the carnival with fun house mirrors and a mysterious arcade game, Zoltar Speaks. The mysterious figure in the arcade box instructs him to "Make a Wish!" Impulsively, Josh makes the only wish on his mind: "I wish I was big!" The machine produces a card: "Your wish is granted." A clap of thunder, sudden rain-Josh runs home.
The next morning, Josh wakes up-and sees in his mirror the face of a man in his thirties. Still a 12 year old boy, he now inhabits the body of a grown-up. His mother thinks he is an intruder and drives him from the house. Only Billy, his best friend, understands. Billy decides they must go to New York City, find an arcade with a Zoltar, and let Josh wish himself back to his old self. Arcades in New York, however, don't have any Zoltar Speaks, and locating carnivals will take six to eight weeks. Josh despairs at the prospect of remaining a grownup for that long, and worries that he will have to find a job. Billy tries to calm Josh, telling him that he'll be fine, because "You're A Big Boy Now". Billy returns to New Jersey, leaving Josh to spend his first night as a grown-up alone in the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
The next day, waiting for Billy under the clock of FAO Schwartz Josh meets MacMillan, the head of a toy company whose sales have suddenly plummeted. Josh, the 12-year-old that he is, tells MacMillan what his toys lack. What MacMillan sees, however, is a 30-something-year-old man with an amazing insight into toys, children and (when they discover a piano keyboard they can dance on) having fun. MacMillan offers Josh a great job. Josh enters the grown-up world of business. His innocence causes chaos. MacMillan cancels the company's Christmas toy, which his employees say "can't miss". The company executives panic. Paul Seymour, Vice Presidemt in charge of product development, wants revenge for the cancellation of his toy. Susan Lawrence, Vice President in charge of marketing, whose affair with Paul is just ending, finds herself attracted to Josh.
As a perk of his job, Josh is given a loft apartment. He furnishes it with toys. Susan arrives to make a pass at him. Misreading her intentions, Josh innocently tries to find something they can do together, and finally turns on a toy planetarium that fills the room with stars. Beguiled, Susan finds herself spending the night at Josh's - angelicly in separate bunks.
At a company party, Paul learns of Susan's night with Josh and picks a fight with him. Susan comforts Josh and once again, his innocence wins her heart. MacMillian challenges his executives to come up with a new Christmas toy, and demands of them they find a way to relate to their children. Josh suggests dancing. He gets everyone to do a line dance, during which Susan gives him a kiss unlike any he had ever received as a boy from his mother. When Billy arrives with the list of carnivals which has finally arrived, Josh chooses to go off with Susan. The adult world is beginning to attract him.
In a suburban mall, Billy, angry at being jilted by Josh, seeks the company of other kids. He meets Josh's mother: today is Josh's birthday and the party would have been at the mall. Billy reassures her that Josh is coming home, which only makes Mrs. Baskin more aware of how fast Billy, and all the children have grown up. The mall turns surreal, and becomes the scene of the birthday Josh is missing. Josh wakes up in Susan's office. They have been up all night trying, unsuccessfully, to invent a toy. They try thinking as children instead of adults - Susan can't remember how she felt as a 13-year-old, but under Josh's prodding the memory returns. The moment fills with emotion, Susan moves to Josh. The scene freezes. Young Josh appears to sing a duet with Big Josh about his inner feelings.
The next morning, Josh bowls into the office as a new man. His secretary, Miss Watson, is overwhelmedr. Not only does Josh feel like an actual grown-up, but during the night, he has thought up a Christmas toy. The executives help him develop it for MacMillan. Billy returns with the list of carnivals, having located the Zoltar machine. Josh is, however, full of himself and does not want to return to his former size. Billy accuses Josh of betraying himself, but at that moment Susan appears and kisses Josh. Billy finally understands why he has been dismissed, and leaves. Susan invites Josh to a dinner party with her friends, and Josh excitedly exclaims that he is going to a real "grown-up dinner party with Susan's grown-up friends".
The party is a disaster. Josh humiliates himself and realises how far he is from being an adult. Susan takes this moment to tell Josh her true feelings for him, feelings that Josh is too young to return. Josh tells Susan the truth: that he is really a 13-year-old boy. Susan, seeing only a grown man, assumes this is some kind of elaborate brush-off. It breaks her heart to have been wrong about another man. For the first time, Josh understands that being a grown-up is more than just being big. It is being responsible - in this case, for someone who you care for and who cares for you in return. Josh realises that everything you say and do carries a certain weight that a kid can't imagine when you're a grown up. He returns to his neighborhood, and watches boys and go through the first nervous motions of pairing-off events appropriate to being thirteen. Josh finds Billy and tells him he wants to go home.
Billy has found a Zoltar in a warehouse filled with discarded remnants of amusement parks. Josh asks Susan to meet him there. Before he can make his wish and leave the grown up world for the time being, he must say goodbye, to make sure Susan understands. Arriving, Susan finally accepts the magic of what has happened to Josh. She tells Josh how he changed her life and, understanding that it's the only way. She tells Josh to make his wish. As he does, Mrs. Baskin enters with Billy. Josh returns to being small, and as he and his mother embrace, the curtain closes with Billy examining the Zoltar machine.
Cast: 9 men, 5 women, 2 boys, 1 girl
- Josh Baskin
- Cynthia Benson
- Mrs. Baskin
- Mr. Baskin
- Young Josh
Synopsis of Scenes
Scene 1: A Neighborhood in New Jersey
Scene 2: The Baskin House
Scene 3: A Neighborhood Street / The Port Authority Bus Terminal
Scene 4: F.A.O. Schwarz
Scene 5: The Offices of The MacMillan Toy Company
Scene 6: Josh's Loft
Scene 7: A New York Restaurant
Scene 1: The Mall
Scene 2: Susan's Office
Scene 3: The Offices of MacMillan Toys
Scene 4: An Eastside Apartment
Scene 5: The Roof Terrace
Scene 6: The Neighbourhood
Scene 7: A Warehouse
- Can't Wait - Young Josh, Mrs Baskin, Billy, Children and parents
- Talk To Her / The Carnival - Young Josh, Billy, Cynthia, Cynthia's Friends, Mr. Baskin, Mrs. Baskin, Zoltar, Ensemble
- This Isn't Me - Josh
- I Want To Go Home - Josh
- Say Good Morning to Mom - Mrs. Baskin
- Big Boys - Billy, Josh
- The Time Of Your Life - Salespeople
- Fun - MacMillan, Josh
- Dr. Deathstar - The Deathstarrettes
- Welcome to MacMillan Toys - Executives
- Here We Go Again - Susan
- Welcome to MacMillan Toys - Part 2 - Josh, Billy, Paul, Susan, Execs, MacMillan
- Stars, Stars, Stars - Josh, Susan
- Let's Not Move Too Fast - Susan
- Do You Want To Play Games? - Josh, Susan
- Little Susan Lawrence - Susan
- Tavern Foxtrot - Paul and Company
- Cross The Line - Josh, Kids, MacMillan, Grown-ups
- Outta Here! - Billy
- Stop, Time - Mrs. Baskin
- Happy Birthday, Josh - Children
- Dancing All The Time - Susan
- I Want To Know - Young Josh, Josh
- Coffee, Black - Josh, Susan, MacMillan, Executives
- The Real Thing - Diane, Abigail, Tom, Nick
- The Real Thing (reprise) - Susan
- Once Special Man - Susan
- When You're Big - Josh
- We're Gonna Be Fine - Susan, Josh
- Skateboard Romance - Children
- I Want to Go Home / Stars, Stars, Stars - Susan and Josh