Broadway’s ‘Big Fish’: Norbert Leo Butz Texts ‘YOLO,’ Embarrasses His Kids

New musical's opening night party fetes tall actors, tall tales

Bobby Steggert, Norbert Leo Butz and
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Broadway musical “Big Fish” is all about fathers and children and tall tales, so it was hard not to talk about all those things at the show’s opening night party at Roseland Oct. 6.

Most of the cast is notably tall, too, but none are tall as Ryan Andes, the 6’4″ (and then some) actor who plays Karl the Giant on two-foot stilts. His own tall tale — true, he swears — is that his grandfather, Keith Andes, opened a show at the very same theater (then the Alvin, now the Neil Simon) in 1960, starring as Lucille Ball’s leading man in “Wildcat.”

After the opening night perf, lead thesp Norbert Leo Butz didn’t want to spill any of his own tall tales. “All the ones I know are dirty!”

“But with my own daughters — I have three, the oldest is 16 — I try to do text-speak with them,” he said. “I’ll text one of them, ‘YOLO, it’s yo popz,’ and they’re like, ‘Dad! So embarrassing!'”

John August, who wrote the screenplay of the 2003 movie as well as the book for the musical, has an eight-year-old daughter but saves the stories for the screen. “Some of these songs are older than she is!” he said.

“Big Fish” is August’s first musical, and there are lots of differences between writing a movie  and penning a stage musical. The biggest? It’s not just actors who perform the show.

“With this, Andrew [Lippa, the composer] and I had to perform the musical 100, 150 times for producers to show what we’d got,” he said. “I’ve sung these songs. I wasn’t a singer. But I am now!”