Well for young Josh Baskin it's to be a grown up, but unlike most wishes granted by the magical "Zoltar Speaks carnival machine," Josh's wish comes true in a very 'big' way.
"He's a kid who is tired of being treated like a kid, but discovers that being a grown-up has two sides," said Miguel Barrera, who plays older Josh in Memorial High School's upcoming production Big the Musical.
A multi-age cast of 41 students from West New York brings the zany story of Josh Baskin to life under the direction of Steven Hempel.
"Being a teacher for 14 years I've seen students taking too many adult steps too quickly, and I think they need to slow down and be kids," said Hempel. "I think they try to grow up too fast and when you're an adult you can't go back."
Based on the hit 1987 movie, Big, starring Tom Hanks, Big the Musical debuted on Broadway on April 28, 1996 and closed after 193 performances. It has since become a favorite among the school and community theatre circuit.
The show runs two and a half hours with a 15-minute intermission.
Playing with the big boys
Planning for the musical began a far back as last April with costume and set design beginning as early as the summer.
Auditions began in September, and Hempel even invited three performers from Broadway to run workshops with the kids in drama club.
"They did different workshops on characterization, and movement and awareness," said Hempel.
Big the Musical follows the story of Josh Baskin, who grows up overnight after being granted a wish at a carnival. His only ally in this strange new world is his best friend, Billy Kopecki, who helps him naviagte through his transition while finding another Zoltar machine to wish himself back.
"In my 11 years of directing [this production] is the most musically challenging, both vocally and instrumentally," said Hempel.
Casting was completed by December, and will feature the Memorial High School band under the direction of Conductor Robert Hamm.
Meet the cast
Starring as grown up Josh in his first leading role is 17-year-old Miguel Barrera, who is participating in his third production at Memorial. He has been part of the ensemble cast and a supporting actor in previous productions.
"It was really great, but I was overwhelmed at first by all the lines, the dancing and the singing, but I enjoy it," said Miguel. "I try my best every evening, and there can always be improvement."
Sharing the spotlight as younger Josh and making his stage debut is 10-year-old Camilo Daud.
"I'm a 12 year old boy who has s crush on this girl Cynthia Benson [Yanna Daud], who is my sister in real life," said Camilo. "I go to this carnival, where I make a wish to be a grownup and that wish changes my life and my size."
This is Daud's first time acting.
"My favorite part is to be on a team with other kids," said Camilo, who has his own wish for opening night. Camilo wishes that his performance goes well.
Rounding out the lead cast of characters in Josh's world are Nayda Pena, playing Susan Lawrence, and Johny Aquilar, playing Billy Kopecki.
"My character is a 33 year old woman, who is basically a workaholic, and has forgotten how to have fun and live life," said Nadya Pena, 16, who's now in her second production at Memorial High School with her first lead role.
"Out of the two of us, I'm the mature one," said Johny Aquilar, 18. "I'm sort of like [Josh's] aspirin calming him down."
From 12 to 30
The story starts out with 12-year-old Josh Baskin, who has a crush on 13-year-old Cynthia Benson. However, his first attempt to speak to her at a carnival goes awry and worse still while on the line for a ride called the Wild Thunder, he is turned away because he is not tall enough.
Josh later comes across a Zoltar Speaks arcade game, and wishes he was big. The next morning Josh wakes up seemingly in his 30s, but still remains the 12-year-old boy inside. Frightened and confused who turns for help from his best friend Billy, who helps to find another Zoltar Machine. Much to their dismay it will take about six to eight weeks to locate one, and in the meantime Josh must find a way to live as his adult self.
Josh ends up meeting the head of MacMillan Toys, who after enjoying Josh's childlike honesty on the products, gives him a job the company, and inadvertently gets into a struggle with some of the company executives, but catches the eye of one executive Susan Lawrence.
Josh begins to be enticed by the grownup world, but after realizing what it takes to be a grown up Josh opts to return to his normal size and age.
However, the best way to know the story is to see it.
Big the Musical will be running at Memorial High School, located at 5501 Park Ave., West New York, on March 23, 24, 30 and 31. For more information call (201) 553-4110. Jessica Rosero can be reached at email@example.com