Director Richard Israel and his fine cast have a first-rate revival of this 1996 Broadway musical, based on the film that made Tom Hanks a star. And if youve seen the movie and think you know the story, think again: You can expect a few witty surprises here. Big (John Weidman, book; David Shire, music; Richard Maltby, lyrics) is a whimsical tale about Josh (L.J. Benet), an undersized teenager whose oversized crush on a schoolmate results in a startling metamorphosis when a carnival contraption grants his wish to be big. When he wakes up as an adult, Josh (Will Collyer) has his hands full coping with life, his best friend, Billy (Sterling Beaumon), and a heartbroken mom (Lisa Picotte). When he stumbles into a high-caliber job with a toy company, he catches the eye of corporate climber Susan (the outstanding Darrin Revitz) and finds romance, but he ultimately discovers that life as a 13-year-old adult is not all that great. Israel has done a remarkable job staging this piece on a small stage, and manages the large cast which features some fine adolescent actors and actresses quite well. Christine Lakins choreography is polished and attractive, with many of the dances evincing an edgy comic expressiveness. Musical director Daniel Thomas does equally fine work. El Centro Theatre, 800 N. El Centro Ave., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 3 p.m., through June 28. (323) 460-4443. A West Coast Ensemble production.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: May 8. Continues through July 26, 2009