BIG RIVER: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Continues Wednesdays Through Saturdays

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on June 7, 2011

Envy is such an ugly word with dreadful connotations. But I envy in a good way, if that is possible, all of the young people who have had this theatre to grow up in. One of my Saturday morning School of the Arts students was fortunate enough to have her father build a stage with curtains, footlights and all of the extras a child could want, right in their very own home. But the audience is elusive and inconsistent, at best. I used my mother’s clothesline and blankets off my bed to create a stage. You could be in one of my pre-teen summer outdoor extravaganzas if your parents would let you bring a blanket. Old curtains became costumes — you know I had that idea way before Maria von Trapp did in The Sound of Music.

The cast of Big River — Ali Arnold, Christian Boyd, Camilla Brim, Jaymin Burr, Della Coleman, Elizabeth Coleman, Courtney Collins, Hannah Collins, Autumn Crafton, Essence Davis, Shaylen Davis, Cheyenne Deibert, Humberto Figueroa, Samantha Grimes, Juliana Hensley, Andrew Hulse, Meghan Judd, Haedyn King, Krista LaRocca, Michelle Lebkuecher, Patrick Long, Andrew MacAfee, Annalise Martin, Sidney McCarty, Jamie McNair, Jenna Meredith, Mariah Merejo, Lauren Mund, Madeline O’Connor, Hugh Poland, JC Poland, Liam Poland, Christian Redden, Jacob Ritchart, Hallie Sampson, Tristan Sartor, Brooke Schauer, Georgia Smith, Timothy Smith, Phoenix Tarpy, Nathaniel Taylor and Amy Wyer — have all had the chance to succeed, fail, break legs, break even, and learn in front of a live audience. And none of them had to bring a blanket in order to participate. Oh, but they did have to come up with overalls, so everything old is new again.

On Mother’s Day, with only the memory of Mother’s love, I shed many a tear watching Irene Dunn in “I Remember Mama.” I have a strong affection for George Stevens, the director of the film. He directed “Giant,” “Diary of Anne Frank,” “A Place in the Sun” … and “Mama.” He cast Rudy Vallee, who had not worked in years; the same was true of Edgar Bergen and Barbara O’Neil (Mrs. O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind”). These were grand people, but work is so ephemeral, as it was for George Stevens, who had used his talents and skill for the army during World War II photographing the Nazi death camps, then coming back to Hollywood and losing all status and clout when his production of “The Greatest Story Ever Told” died at the box office. Success is so fleeting, and laurels wilt and die, but you are at least remembered by those who were touched by your work, moved by your art, and bettered by the experience of both.

Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the musical based on the Mark Twain classic, continues its run on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 6pm and Saturdays at 2pm and 6pm, through June 11. All tickets are $10.

See you on the river!

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