Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Big River

Thanks a lot, Jocelyn, for promising that I would be blogging soon about Big River. Now I'm obligated to fulfill your promise.

No, really, I did want to blog about this, so the pressure doesn't sting. Here goes:

When I was just a lad, I would occasionally spend a week or two during the summer with my sister Debbie and her family in Ogden, UT. One of the things I enjoyed most during those trips was listening to her CDs and following along with the handbook of lyrics while rocking in a chair.
The most memorable of all CDs was Big River--the soundtrack to the 1985 Broadway hit based on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I loved the music and the story, and this was before I ever even read Tom Sawyer or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Despite the many plays and musicals I have seen since that time, Big River has remained my favorite. And I never even got to see it performed until last Saturday. Jocelyn bought us tickets to go see the Sundance summer theater production of it. Getting there was an adventure all by itself. It involved driving 30 minutes up Provo Canyon and into Sundance, taking a shuttle to the base of the ski mountain, then riding in a big tractor wagon the rest of the way to the amphitheater.

I was afraid the live performance wouldn't live up to my expectations, and perhaps it didn't quite, but it came so surprisingly close that it still remains my favorite musical.

  • Nick Whitaker (who portrayed the 14-year-old Joseph Smith in the recent "Prophet of the Restoration" movie and also had a minor role in the High School Musical movies) was hilarious as Tom Sawyer.
  • Nathan Waite, as Huck Finn, is one of the best actors/singers I've seen on stage. And he just barely graduated from high school in May.
  • The songs that Jim and Huck sing together are some of the most moving / memorable songs out there that deal with slavery and racial issues.

If you're in Utah, and you have a spare night between now and August 20, consider seeing this show. That is all.

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