Shows B

BIG RIVER The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn A Musical in 2 Acts, 18 Scenes. Book by William Hauptman. Adapted from the novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. Music and lyrics by Roger Miller. Originally produced by The American Repertory Theatre, Cambridge, Massachusetts, subsequently produced by The LaJolla Playhouse, LaJolla, California Eugene O’Neill Theatre 25th April, 1985: closed 20th September, 1987 (1005 perfs) Production staged by Des McAnuff. Scenery by Heidi Landesman. Costumes by Patricia McGourty. Lighting by Richard Riddell. Sound by Otts Munderloh. Musical supervision by Daniel Troob. Orchestrations by Steven Margoshes and Danny Troob. Dance and incidental music by John Richard Lewis. Musical direction and vocal arrangements by Linda Twine. Choreography by Janet Watson. Stage movement and fights by B. H. Barry. STORY “Do You Wanna Go to Heaven?” introduces us to Huck’s situation: “Sometimes,” Huck says “it seemed like the whole blame town of St. Petersburg was telling me who I should be.” And, in fact, the whole town does lecture him, warning (“You may think that the whole thing is silly, but it isn’t silly really...”) that if he doesn’t conform, he’ll go to hell. Late that night Huck escapes from his bedroom to join Tom Sawyer and his friends in the cove, where they dream, in “The Boys song,” of all the horrible and wonderful crimes they’ll commit on the way to “the bad place.” Reality intrudes later that night when Huck’s father shows up in Huck’s bedroom and drags his son off to a cabin in the woods. The action - and the music - takes a sharp turn as Pap careers between buffoonery and dangerous, threatening malice. With his talking blues song, “Guv’ment,” Pap releases a life-time of frustration, ranting incoherently and hilariously against a government that would take a man’s son away from him. Pap, in a drunken delirium, tries to murder Huck, then passes out. Huck sees his chance to escape. He kills a pig, spilling the blood around the cabin to make it look as though he has been murdered. Just as we see that Huck is no longer playing kids’ games, who appears, just outside the action, but the eternal kid, Tom Sawyer. As Tom sings “Hand for the Hog,” we see how far apart the two boys are moving. Huck delivers the next number, a whimsical character piece called, “I Huckleberry, Me,” when he’s alone on Jackson’s Island, living out what Tom might only fantasise. But Huck soon finds he’s not alone on Jackson’s Island after all. Miss Watson’s slave Jim, who has run away to keep from being sold down river to New Orleans, is there, too, and Huck makes the impulsive decision to team up with Jim and help him get to the free states. With just minutes to spare - a posse is after Jim - they launch a raft they have found onto the river and head for freedom. “Muddy Waters The fugitives, travelling only of night, don’t get very far before they are reminded of the seriousness of their action. A boat carrying captured runaway slaves passes them in the darkness and as they sit very still, Huck and Jim hear the plaintive, gospel strains of “The Crossing,” a hymn sung by people moving not towards but away from freedom. The song has the quality of something remembered, of being recalled, in bits and pieces, from the distant past.