The musical of mythical proportions to take the Keim Center stage

Big Fish

Recounting the tender, dynamic and familiar story of the parent-child relationship, Hesston College Theatre will present five performances of the musical Big Fish, Feb. 27 to March 3, in the Hesston College Keim Center Black Box Theatre.

Showtimes are at 7 p.m., Feb. 27 to March 2, and 2 p.m., on Sunday, March 3. Tickets are $10 for adults and seniors and $5 for students. Purchasing tickets in advance is recommended as seating is limited. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the Hesston College Bookstore in Erb Hall during regular business hours or by calling 620-327-8105. Big Fish is a family-friendly musical for all ages.

Big Fish tells the story of Edward Bloom, a man in failing health, and his son, Will, who doesn’t believe the larger-than-life stories his father recounts of his extraordinary life. As Edward continues to decline, Will tries to find the truth behind the tall tales, putting a strain on their relationship. Will must decide to accept his father’s stories or risk losing him completely.

“This show is so relatable and so touching,” said director Rachel Jantzi. “In showing a father’s desire to reach his son, it weaves fantasy with the storytelling parents create to build relationship with their children.”

Written by John August with music by Andrew Lippa, Big Fish is adapted from the 1998 novel Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace, and the 2003 movie adaptation of the same name.

Jantzi notes that with its traditional style, Big Fish carries a different feel than many of her past Hesston College productions, and also creates more spectacle.

Big Fish is a classical-feeling musical,” said Jantzi. “It’s a bright, fun show. There are werewolves, seven-foot giants, a mermaid, witches, dancing and more, but in the end, it also shows us that fantasy and reality may not be that far apart.”

The lead character, Edward, played by sophomore Therin Smith (Key West, Fla.) moves seamlessly between past and present time periods. The role of Will as a grown man who is anticipating the birth of his first child, is played by freshman Tanner DeGrado (Newton, Kan.), and sophomore Leah Huyard (Harrisonburg, Va.) plays Edward’s steadfast wife, Sandra. Making his theatre debut in the role of Will as a child is 10-year-old community student, Alex Gale.

“Never has a show hit me so hard emotionally and intimidated me in wanting to bring it to life in the way it deserves,” said Jantzi. “I have had so much fun with it and I’m really excited at what this group of students is doing with it. The cast is one of the most positive and hard-working groups I have had. They love the show and the characters, too, but they’re also recognizing the parent-child relationship and having realizations of what their parents have handed down to them.”