Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Big RiverBased on Mark Twain‘s classic 1884 novel, Neglected Musicals in association with Hayes Theatre Co presents Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for six performances from 18 April 2018.

Though trying to stay ‘respectable’, Huckleberry Finn runs into trouble when his father, Pap, returns to town. Huck is forced to fake his own death to escape and joins up with another on the run – Jim, a slave in the search for freedom. As they head down the river, they get sucked into scams involving two ‘aristocrats’ – one of which lands Jim in chains once again and Huck and Tom Sawyer join together to free him.

Directed by Ellen Simpson, Big River features music in the bluegrass and country styles in keeping with the setting of the novel. “Big River is one of my favorite musicals,” said Simpson. “I am so pleased to be able to direct a presentation of this much loved musical.”

A stellar cast has been assembled for Big River including Keegan Joyce, best known for his appearances in Please Like Me and MTC’s Vivid White, as Huck, and Madison McKoy who was recently on stage at the Hayes in The View Upstairs will play Jim. Fresh from her turn as Cynthia Weil in Beautiful, Amy Lehpamer will play Mary Jane.  

Cameron Daddo who was the original Huck in the Australian production returns to play Huck’s father PAP, Rodney Dobson who has just finish Dream Lover will play King, and Aaron Tsindos who was a member of ABBA for Muriel’s Wedding as Duke. The cast also includes Zoe Goetz as The Widow Douglas, Brittanie Shipway as Miss Watson, Chidi Mbakwe as Alice, Chemon Theys as Alice’s Daughter, Rob Johnson as Fool and Timothy Springs.

“We have assembled a fantastic cast for Big River,” said producer Michelle Guthrie. “Having seen the production in Sydney with Cameron Daddo I have such great memories of the music, and it’s so wonderful that Cameron will be playing PAP for these presentations.

Adapted from the novel by Mark Twain, with a Book by William Hauptman, and Music & Lyrics by Roger Miller, the 1985 Broadway production at the  Eugene O’Neill Theatre ran for more than 1,000 performances and remained one of the few very successful American musicals of the mid-1980s, winning seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score and Direction.

The Australian production premiered at Sydney’s Her Majesty’s Theatre in 1989 starring Cameron Daddo as Huckleberry Finn, Michael Edward Stevens as Jim, John English as Pap Finn, John Bell as The Duke, and featuring Venetta Fields as Alice, Karen Knowles as Mary Jane Wilks, and Drew Forsythe as The King. Big River subsequently went on to play Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, and the Adelaide Festival Centre.

Director: Ellen Simpson Featuring: Cameron Daddo, Rodney Dobson, Zoe Goetz, Mark Hill, Rob Johnson, Keegan Joyce, Amy Lehpamer, Chidi Mbakwe, Madison McKoy, Brittanie Shipway, Timothy Springs, Chemon Theys, Aaron Tsindos Musical Director: Luke Byrne Producer: Michelle Guthrie

Big River
Hayes Theatre Co, 19 Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point
Season: 18 – 21 April 2018

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Image: Big River (supplied)