Rock Ridge Performing Arts Reels in a “Big Fish”

Rock Ridge Performing Arts took the audience on a journey of love, truth, and hilarity through three performances of “Big Fish” from Dec. 1 to Dec. 4. The musical explored father-son relationships, teetered the line between truth and myth, and left the audience with a tale that tugged on their heart-strings.


Zahria Ford

Several members of the cast gather on the center stage to celebrate Edward (sophomore Andrew Takach) and Jenny (junior Olivia McMahon) — serving as a flashback to Edward’s past as he tells one of his hard-to-believe stories. “Big Fish: School Edition” kicked off RRPA’s ninth season.

Rock Ridge Performing Arts returned to the stage on Dec. 1 to perform their winter musical, “Big Fish.” 

The show begins in Alabama, where 60-year-old Edward Bloom (sophomore Andrew Takach) skips rocks on the river when he is approached by his son, Will (junior Bradley Schraa). About to get married to Josephine (junior Emily Gruessing), Will tells Edward to not tell any of his crazy stories at the wedding. The story flashes back and forth between the past and present as the audience goes on a journey with Edward as he encounters a witch, a giant, a mermaid, and meets the love of his life, Sandra (junior Kaia Greene). All of these seemingly mythical tales connect to Will as he finds out a secret that his father kept hidden.

Sophomore Kailyn Fetterman, a member of the “Big Fish” ensemble, felt both challenged and rewarded by the show. “The most rewarding part was seeing everything come together,” Fetterman said. “There’s a ‘click’ moment [in] each song. I do a trio number, and we were struggling with the dance for a while, and one day it just clicked.”

The cast and crew’s coordination efforts proved helpful when the schedules of the show dates had to change last minute. One of the original show dates for “Big Fish” was supposed to be Saturday, Dec. 3, but was postponed to Dec. 4. The cast of “The Trench” from the DE Theater class traveled to states for the Virginia High School League (VHSL), where RRPA won first place and senior AJ Ruhnke won the Standout Actor award. This was the first time RRPA won this prestige.  

RRPA has always been known for their sets and production quality. The tech crew members worked strenuously backstage and onstage with a keen attention to detail that enhanced the show experience. Sophomore John Lunn is a spotlight operator and a set builder for “Big Fish.” “Building the sets is [the most fun part],” Lunn said. “But getting into the mindset of being able to manage schoolwork and having the time to do schoolwork [can be challenging].” 

The actors work as hard as the tech crew — especially the leads. According to sophomore and “Big Fish” lead, Andrew Takach, being part of RRPA is a balance of triumphs and struggles. “Staying positive and keeping my vocals healthy [are the most challenging parts of ‘Big Fish’],” Takach said. “It’s stressful, but it’s more fun.”

“Big Fish” is a tale filled with love, family, emotion, and the occasional punchline — all tied together with singing and dancing. RRPA executed every scene and every act with feeling and ardor, making this show a worthwhile watch.