Big River, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

A toe-tappin’, knee-slappin’ musical is playing at the Lionheart Theatre for the next two weekends.

Things are bustling at the Lionheart Theatre as they present their first full-length musical. With props, a two-man band (plus cast member Bob Smith playing the harmonica) and the 26-member cast, things over there are probably ready to pop. And pop they will, with singing from the stage and laughter from the audience for the first three weekends in May.

"Big River" is a musical based on Mark Twain’s novel, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" with a book by William Haupman and music and lyrics by Roger Miller. Set in a small town in Missouri, on the banks of the Mississippi River, things seem to go from bad to worse for Tom Sawyer’s friend, Huckleberry Finn. All kinds of things happen: Huck runs into some money, gets adopted, runs away, gets misled by imposters and so on. Director Tanya Caldwell says that the musical’s story line varies little from Twain’s novel.

Caldwell is glad for Lionheart to be moving into new territory by producing a musical. She says, “It’s been a great process and has taught me much. I’m grateful for the many people who have helped make this production come alive.”

A musical is a big order for a small theatre. This particular musical is well suited for a small stage such as Lionheart’s. It involves little dancing and most of what might have been “big production numbers” fit well as choral pieces. I did however miss hearing at least one or two show tunes that I was familiar with, which is no fault of the production itself. 

The story was acted with skill. Sam Weyan as Huck Finn did and excellent job with his part, which included narrating, acting and singing. Another fine performance was by John Jones playing the part of Jim. Not only did he act the part well but brought his outstanding singing voice which was enjoyed throughout the play. The entire cast told the story well with quick changes by many actors who were playing multiple parts. 

The cast members in Big River are: John Jones, John Connell, Melanie Womack, Allie Carroll, Jason Caldwell, Chris Brooks, Sam Weyen, Marianne Shelburn, Shemar Yearwood, Emily Brooks, Bob Smith, David Strube, Nysie Padgett, James Conner, Steven Miller, Anna Caldwell, Deborah Emily Harris, Sam Casey, Matthew Connell, David Caldwell and Sean Casey.

With a wide range of vocal talent the energetic cast came together to bring us all a fun evening as we relived Twain’s well-known tale. Come out to the Lionheart for an enjoyable trip on the Big River.

Big River
Continues on May 13-22
Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday at 2 p.m.

Adults $15
Seniors & students $12

Lionheart Theatre
10 College St. Norcross, GA

Sean Casey May 11, 2011 at 12:42 PM
If you haven't been to Lionheart's cozy community theater in Old Town Norcross--this would be the show to start with! Free dessert at intermission and comfy new chairs!


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