26 April 2015

"Big River"

Seven of us went to see the Regent University Theatre production of the Broadway musical Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Saturday night. Although it may seem repetitive to say so, Big River was another excellent production. The staging (how did they get the raft to move?) but especially the singing were at the top.

Zach Phaneuf, who played Huckleberry Finn, is only an undergraduate senior but his acting, singing, and general stage presence were excellent. Keep an eye on him if he pursues graduate studies in Regent's MFA program. As good as Zach was, however, Theodore Holmes, III as Jim was great. A third-year MFA student, the maturity and timbre of Theodore's voice stood out in a way no other vocalist could match. Able to convey pathos and pride, Theodore's vocal performance as Jim should not be missed.

As a musical, Big River did not attempt to convey much of the dark side of Mark Twain's book. There were only hints at the discouragement Twain revealed as he moved from the earlier optimism of Tom Sawyer. But don't let the upbeat nature of the musical discourage you from seeing it. Big River will show April 26 and May 3. Go see it for a greatly enjoyable three hours. 

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