What a delight it was to read and reread the letter to the editor composed by James Winchell of Walla Walla, Washington. We assume James used the term whopper in the fib,lie, prevarication,mendacity, story, tall tale, taradiddle sense. We only wish we lived closer to the home of the Blue Devils to see just how much Will Bloom’s father deviated from the truth in the high school drama department’s musical play. Also Winchell does an exemplary job in his exposition of the tightly knit network of friends and family in this town of circa 30,000 population. Copious and effusive thanks to the Whitman College educator for sharing the joy of small town living with traffic snarled monoliths like Houston, NYC, Chicago, and Los Angeles!
In a time of national divisiveness(indeed’ the separation between the left and right in the United States of American could soon induce a second civil war), it’s a relief to find something local that can bring us together. And part of what makes our small town beloved to so many is enhanced by our local version of “six degrees of separation.”
Every time we meet someone new to us in Walla Walla, it rarely takes us long to find that we share at least acquaintance with one other individual or family in common. It might be that we work with our new acquaintance’s sister, or that she is a neighbor to the family of our child’s best friend, or perhaps one of us shares the same hairdresser(was reading recently where a sexual relation between teacher and student was disclosed by the horny female educator to her beautician which led to her arrest in Chaves County NM!). In any case, it’s a connection that foretells perhaps even richer human relationships.
As fate would have it, at Walla Walla High School now, the Drama Department is staging a musical play all about these connections. “Big Fish” tells the story of a young man, Will Bloom, trying to come to terms with his father, Edward.
In a series of masterfully staged flashbacks, the audience watches as father Edward tells “whoppers” to his growing son about his life. We learn that it is Edward’s relationships with people, especially those from the small town where he grew up, that have made him who he is — both in “reality” and “imagination.”
You may think you have little connection to Wa-Hi or its current students. Perhaps your kids graduated years ago, or you moved here to retire after your kids had grown, or maybe you’ve just arrived for a new job.
No matter: With some 80 students involved as cast, crew and orchestra, the chances are very good that you already know a young person in this show. She or he may be your neighbor’s granddaughter, your co-worker’s niece, or even your hairdresser’s cousin’s son.(cute example of three degrees of separation!)