Rotary Presents is gearing up for “Big: The Musical,” which is set to take the stage at Parrish Auditorium at Miami University Hamilton Thursday, March 19 through Sunday, March 22. Tickets are $16. With the annual production, The Rotary Club of Hamilton will also celebrate its 62nd season of bringing theater to the community.
The production is a major fundraiser for The Rotary Club of Hamilton, which currently has about 130 active Rotarian members.
“Every year, we award $10,000 in scholarships to students in the Hamilton area,” said Rich Bethart, president of The Rotary Club of Hamilton and president of Bethart Printing. “We also honor requests that go through our philanthropy committee and we give out another $5,000, which is provided to charitable organizations that approach us with needs.”
Additionally, Rotary supports the Salvation Army, providing Christmas gifts to children in the community, and hosts several science fairs in the Hamilton City School District, among other endeavors.
“The show has continued to be a success, because of its local flavor. The auditions are held at Immanuel Lutheran Church. The people in the play are friends and neighbors, and the play itself is held on the campus of Miami University Hamilton. It has such a local feel to it, yet it’s a big production,” Bethart said. “The director, Kevin Brunck, for example, is involved with the productions that go on at Kings Island, so he’s very talented. The level of talent that we have in our community is extraordinary. It is a very professional performance.”
Directed by Brunck, and produced by Herb Cox, this family friendly musical is appropriate for audiences of all ages. Barb Winkler and Jane Winkler act as assistant producers and Tracy Boots serves as assistant director. About 440 tickets are available for each of the five shows, and 2,200 guests are expected to attend.
“Big: The Musical” is a 1996 Broadway musical adaptation of a Tom Hanks film that was released in 1988, Brunck said. The story centers on a 12-year-old New Jersey boy, Josh Baskin, who grows up overnight after being granted a wish by a fortune teller machine at a carnival. With the help of his best friend, Billy, he is forced to deal with his new adulthood, while trying finding the machine so that he can wish himself back to being a kid.
“(It) has always been one of my favorite musicals,” Brunck said of ‘Big.’ “It took the story that the movie had and it opened it up a lot more with the characters. It is kind of a bittersweet look at childhood and what we leave behind as we transition into adulthood. On the other end of it, it takes a look at the adult and how they can be just as childish as kids in the adult world.”
This year’s show is made up of more than 80 volunteers, including cast and crew members as well as participating Rotarians, who do the set construction, sell tickets and program ads and do a lot or work behind the scenes.
Bill Balfour, a seasoned theater veteran and general manager or EnterTRAINment Junction who acts as MacMillan, the toy store owner, said he wanted to be involved with the production because he wanted to help with the fundraising and to have a good time.
“I would encourage the community to come out for a couple of reasons. One, it is a fundraiser,” Balfour said. “Rotary does a lot of good things in the community. They put money into a lot of different programs around the City. Number two, is in our society of staring at a screen, live performance is still something that if people see it, they enjoy it. This is a play you can bring your kids to, there are kids in the show and it’s a lot of fun. I think people will walk out tapping their toes to the music and laughing about how fun the story was.”
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