A small town is playing host to a "Big" production this summer.
The Stewartstown Summer Theatre program will put its youthful stamp on "Big: The Musical," the 1996 stage production based on the 1988 film "Big" starring Tom Hanks.
This year marks the theater program's 33rd consecutive production, with 12 shows in 11 days starting Aug. 1.
"On the outside looking in, it appears to be pretty hectic, but to those of us who have been part of our program, there is a rhythm to how we do this," says director David McDowell. "We start with rehearsals eight and one half weeks prior to opening night, and we have developed a fairly efficient system not only to pull this off, but to do it well."
The theater program has grown into a regional event involving hundreds of young people from eight school districts across York County. Youth between the ages of 12 and 19 try out every year in May for the theater's latest production. To keep the kids fresh through the jam-packed schedule of performances, dinners and dessert events, the program double-casts the show.
The movie version of "Big" tells the story of a young boy named Josh Baskin (played by Hanks) who makes a wish at a magic wishing machine to become big. He falls asleep as a 12-year-old boy and wakes in an adult's body -- but still with a mental age of 12.
Although the original film is now nearly a quarter-century old, many of the youth involved had at least heard of the movie, McDowell says.
"Some of them had familiarity with it, but this was more in their parents' generation. I'm sure there was a demand for it at Netflix and video stores once we announced the show," he jokes.
Stage adaptation: But the musical makes many changes from the movie it's based on, McDowell says.
"The script writing is quite different," he says. "Many scene locations are different than in the movie script, and the dialogue is quite different in several places."
"There are a lot of scene changes. We work in a small space, so we always have to figure out how to create effects in limited space," he says. "There are many technical challenges as well, most notably the 17-foot floor piano that two characters dance on. (However), we are very excited to tackle these challenges."
The piano scene is one of his favorites, McDowell says.
"It is the signature moment of the movie and the play," he says. "There are also two very lively full cast dance numbers that the audience will really like."
The fun of the pre-teen perspective on adulthood is another highlight, McDowell says.
"I think the audience will love all those moments when the grownup Josh is interpreting comments and situations from a 12-year-old's perspective."
-- Reach Kyle Dunlap at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Stewartstown Summer Theatre program will open "Big: The Musical" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1, at the Stewartstown United Methodist Church, 26 S. Main St., Stewartstown.
Shows start at 7 p.m. Aug. 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. Matinees will be offered at 2 p.m. Aug. 4, 5 and 11. Some performances include dinner or dessert options.
Reserved tickets range from $12 to $20 for adults and $9 to $13 for children depending on whether the ticket is show only, show with dinner or show with dessert.
Visit www.stewartstownumc.org/summertheatre/site/ to view all of the ticketing options, to purchase tickets and to get more information. Questions can be submitted via email at email@example.com or by phone at 717-993-2507, ext. 1.