by Haley Flanders, Dramaturg    

(While the BYU production is closed, The Fisherman and His Wife is still busy touring at local elementary schools. There will also be two FREE performances at the Provo and Orem libraries. Details below.)

I would like to pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of the actors of The Fisherman and His Wife over the past 7+ months by looking back at the beginning through images, and showcasing their experiences through recent interviews. Here are pictures from the show’s first preview in April.

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This is from the beginning of the play, where everyone recited the play’s title together. (Note: the role of kokken 2 was played by Stacy Wilk originally, but was performed by Rachel Belt for the actual production due to complications with Stacy’s schedule.)

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The flounder (Ross Wilcox) used to sing the name of the wish before granting it, and waving his arm, like so. This was before the “fish song” was added to the production, along with the underscoring music, written by Brandon Bringhurst (the fisherman).

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For rehearsals, Lizzie Mickelsen (Isabel) would wear a feathered half mask when we was empress. Originally, the fisherman did not have any additional costume pieces during this scene. Eventually, a hat and half mask were added to show the true amount of power she had: the ability to actually change the way her husband dressed!

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The scene where the fisherman travels to the seashore during the massive thunderstorm at the end remained the same from preview to performance. His cape was shaken by the kokken (Stacy Wilk and Nicole Schofield) to dramatize the dangerous wind, while the storyteller (Mariah Bowles) instructed the audience to pantomime the motion of the waves. The cape was replaced, though, and had to be carefully articulated so as to not choke the fisherman (Brandon Bringhurst).

NOW, read some behind-the-scenes responses from the actors to learn about the touring experience, how the characters have changed since the April preview, and what they will miss the MOST when the tour ends in December:

Q: What has been one of your favorite experiences in performing at different elementary schools?

LIZZIE MICKELSEN (ISABEL): Going to so many schools has been both a curse and a blessing.  Each audience is so different and it is interesting to feel their different energies.  One of my favorite moments has to be after one performance.  The entire cast hurried to get changed so that we could go into the classrooms and do our workshops with the kids.  I was one of the first people out of costume so I went out into the hall.  In the classroom next door to where I was changing I could see through the window in the door, and the ENTIRE class was prancing around like the seahorse.  I watched for a few seconds and then went into the dressing room to grab Emma (the seahorse) to show her.  We both continued to watch and were so happy that they enjoyed the show so much.  Of course, as soon as the students saw that we were watching they stopped; but it was one of the cutest things I have ever seen.

ROSS WILCOX (FLOUNDER): My favorite part has been hearing how the children react to different moments in the play. I love when they understand the more dramatic moments and (often loudly) express themselves during the show. During one performance, as the Fisherman considered his final wish and declared a resolute “I wish for Isabel to be happy,” one boy in the audience yelled out “YES!” It was a wonderful affirming moment that what we’re doing really does have an impact on these kids’ lives.  

Q: How has your character developed and changed from day 1 of rehearsal to today?

LIZZIE MICKELSEN (ISABEL): Isabel has changed so much from day 1 that it is hard to remember what she started out as.  At the beginning of the rehearsal process, I didn’t understand what a compassionate, loving person she is underneath all of the sadness and greed that develops through the show.  I also had a huge amount of trouble trying to find the differences between each of Isabel’s different stages.  I had to figure out how each of them speak, how each of them move, and what they are thinking, what makes them tick.  Up until the last few rehearsals, I was still having trouble making the differences between each of the Isabels big enough.  I essentially switch between 5 completely different characters in the space of 50 minutes.  Because of this, as an actor, Isabel has been the most difficult character to develop out of all of the shows I have ever done.

ROSS WILCOX (FLOUNDER): I think the Flounder has evolved so much along with the rest of the cast as we used rehearsal as a time for exploration and innovation. I started out seeing him as not much more than a goofy prince. I drew on influences like the Cheshire Cat and the princes from Into the Woods. It took time, however, to develop a real connection with the Fisherman. As we added backstory, we talked about how the prince became a flounder, what his feelings for the fisherman are, and what his relationship with the seahorse is like. This helped a great deal to feel more present in the scenes. The flounder ended up being a little less goofy (still silly), but he definitely takes the action of the scenes more seriously now. Overall, I’m very happy with how it’s ended up.

Q: What will you miss most about this show when it is over?

LIZZIE MICKELSEN (ISABEL): When this show is over, I am going to miss my cast so much.  We are all like a family, a crazy one at that.  We as actors have grown so close to each other as well as to our stage manager and our director that we miss each other in between shows.  I will also miss performing so often during the week.  Now I have to go back to having all of my classes in classrooms sitting in desks, yuck.

MARIAH BOWLES (STORYTELLER): I think what I will miss most about the show when it’s over is the constant opportunity for learning and growth. Each and every time we do the performance, I discover something new about myself, about the script, and about the world we live in. In addition, the entire experience up until this point has helped me to learn SO much. I’ve grown to understand the importance of having detail and specificity in my work, of collaboration, and of real and total commitment. So I guess what I’ll miss most about this production is the way that it’s pushed and challenged me, and has helped me along the path of becoming a better artist.

BRANDON BRINGHURST (FISHERMAN): This has been, chronologically speaking, the longest running show from auditions to final performance I’ve ever been in (March-December).  This means that I have formed a close relationship with all of my fellow cast members, my stage manager, and director.  We’ve been through it all: the thick, the thin and everything in between.  I will miss them the most of all.  The show has been a challenge for me since the start, but I was able to work through them with the help of others.  Because the show has been running for so long, it has become an integral part of my life.  I have a hard time imagining my life without this show being a part of it.  I will miss the whole experience, but most of all, I will miss who I have shared this experience with.

*I will post pictures from the FREE library performances! I hope to see you there!

MONDAY NOV 3rd, 7:00 pm at the Provo Library (550 N University Ave, Provo, UT 84601)

MONDAY NOV 10th, 7:00 pm at the Orem Library (58 N State St, Orem, UT 84057)

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