Highland Rambler

The student news site of Highland High School in Salt Lake City, Utah

Highland Rambler

Highland Rambler

Highland Has Reeled In Praise On “Big Fish”

Billie Martinez
Rowan Jackson (left) and Aviana Cova perform during Big Fish.

After months of intense practice and hard work, Highland theatre’s production of Big Fish has come to a close. Rehearsals began at the start of September and ran all the way through till the final performance. The term ‘production’ is very suitable to the amount of work put into this musical. 

“I started working on it in June,” Highland’s theatre teacher Sara Ragey said. “I start doing all of the planning and I spend most of my summer doing that.” 

The cast consisted of 50 people, a third of whom were doing their first performance with Highland. Beyond the hard work of the cast members and Ragey, several parents, teachers, volunteers, stage crew, and the band and orchestra took the time to make this heartfelt story a reality.  

The story follows a son, William Bloom played by Nathan Lingen, who tries to determine what is fact or fiction about his father’s tall tales. This constant search for the truth has strained the relationship between him and his father, Edward Bloom played by Rowan Jackson, who refuses to establish the difference between fact or fiction even while he is dying of cancer. This sends William on a desperate chase, only to realize that these stories were meant to inspire him and demonstrate his father’s love for life. 

Big Fish gave the cast an opportunity to explore a production that strongly contrasted with Highland’s production of SpongeBob from last year, as well as feature a very strong male cast, which the program has not had in the past.  

Ragey decided to use this opportunity to pick a production that was very meaningful to her but would also challenge her students, as the musical required such intense vulnerability. 

“The most important part, I think, was a lot of the emotional connection to the material. Everyone, no matter what part they played, they had to have a connection to the story and what was going on,” Big Fish cast member Harper Pearce, who played Jenny Hill, said.  “What does loss feel like? What does it feel like to have a hero? What does it feel like to have family connections? Stuff like that. It’s very important to have your own connection to the material, and I think that was an important process for everyone.” 

The entire lead cast this year had very strong vocal performances; the most noted vocals came from Jackson and Ariana Cova, who plays Sandra. Ragey did a good job of playing to each cast members’ strengths, which came together as a whole to create a very impressive production. 

Intricate sets and projections were used to set the scene and transport the audience to Spectre, Alabama. Lighting was used to create a mood and provide focus for each scene. 

Unlike past years, and to the dismay of the cast, this will be the only musical this year. 

“Last year we had SpongeBob and Little Women, but this year we only have one musical,” Pearce said. “So even though I cannot sing right now, and my voice is all gone I will miss singing on the stage.” 

Several cast members recounted the connections they made with people during the making of this production, which was very visible on and off the stage. As a whole, there was a commitment to the storyline and the overall mood of the piece which resonated very will the audience. 

During the final bows, audience members had tears filling their eyes after the theatre program demonstrated the connections between a father and a son, and what it means to say goodbye to the most influential person in your life. 

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