David Benedict on theatre

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The Independent Culture
The really good news from Broadway is that this season sees the opening of a brand new musical which should set pulses racing. Big is based on the captivating movie starring Tom Hanks (below), which he made long before the days when he made an exhibition of himself weeping all over gold statuettes. It is directed by the dazzling team responsible for Crazy for You which closes (alas) in London at the end of next month, and if you haven't seen it, then jump on a train immediately. Its success is down to the talents of director Mike Ockrent and his choreographer Susan Stroman, who leave you slack-jawed and gasping at the sheer invention and visceral thrill of the musical staging.

Turning Big into a musical makes complete sense. The scenario, in which a young boy wishes to be big and wakes up the next morning to discover that he is the same boy but in a man's body, is pure fantasy. Once you accept that, then you can enlarge the fantasy in any way you like, even with singing and dancing.

One of the film's best sequences takes place in the giant New York toy store, FAO Schwarz. Cannily, they have been persuaded to sign a major sponsorship and merchandising deal, which opens up enormous possibilities for future productions.

I can see it now. Harrods Food Hall could sponsor The Wild Duck and London Transport would be perfect for A Streetcar Named Desire. The Pajama Game is a must for Marks & Spencer, and theatreland is now ready for A Doll's House by Hamleys and The Cocktail Party by Absolut Vodka while Prozac could do the entire works of Pinter. Ann Summers could do As You Like It, the Liberal Democrats are a cinch for Much Ado About Nothing, and the Iraqi government would happily back Damn Yankees. I look forward to Sky TV sponsoring Fiddler on the Roof, but who could we get to shore up The House at Pooh Corner? Gilbert and George, perhaps? As for the revival of Moby Dick... the Maxwells?

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