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.