I’m fanatic when it comes to plays. Straight shows like “The Foreigner” and “Arsenic and Old Lace” are amazing, while musicals ranging from “Singing in the Rain” to “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” keep me singing for days.
Recently I saw Big River, one of my favorite musicals. I thought that I could give a review on the play itself, so others could judge whether or not they are interested in seeing it.
Big River is based on a classic novel by Mark Twain called “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. It follows the storyline closely, leaving out a few things such as the shipwreck of Walter Scott, the Shepherdsons and Grangerfords, and Colonel Sherburn and Boggs.It does, however, add in songs to accommodate scenes such as “Muddy Waters”, “River in the Rain”, and “The Royal Nonesuch.”
To sum up the story, Huck Finn is an innocent young boy who hasn’t really learned for himself yet. After escaping from his cruel Pap, Huck goes on an adventure with a runaway slave named Jim. They travel down the Mississippi River, which is a great symbol of freedom and happiness for them, but soon, Jim and Huck meet The King and the Duke (conmen feeding off of people’s gullibility). After being forced to play many cons on innocent people, Huck and Jim try to escape. Unfortunately, they do not escape the King and Duke in time, and Jim gets sold to Farmer Silas, Tom Sawyer’s uncle. With help from Tom, Huck helps Jim escape only to find out that the slave was free all along.
Throughout the story, Huck learns that the way the world sees slavery was much different than the way he saw it. By the end of the book/play, Huck develops his own moral compass and sees Jim as a real person.
Although the book contains a lot of satire pertaining to things such as racism, hypocrisy, religion, superstition, gullibility, melodrama, etc, the play focuses on the relationship between the two leads Huck Finn and Jim the slave. There is a beautiful bond between the two and the play really brings out the connection that they have.
I love the play because you see the way Huck thinks, and you see the way he matures and learns what’s right from wrong. The songs are powerful, the set is amazing, and the actors can bring you to tears.
I especially loved the version I saw of Big River because Jim was played by an older actor, so I saw a father/son relationship between Jim and Huck. I also thought the King and Duke did very well because I hated them so much for their inhumanity and greed.
I hope each one of you will get a chance to see this outstanding musical because it has such a good message pertaining to slavery and moral goodness. You’ll fall in love with Huck, and you’ll laugh at the comedy too.