“BIG RIVER” A RIP ROARING TREAT FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

Bonnie Goldberg

St. Petersburg Gazette Want Ad:  Barefoot boy seeks adventure. Ready to risk life and limb.  Have corncob pipe and fishing pole, with slingshot available.  Rip roaring fun and danger are requirements.  Call Huckleberry Finn for more necessities.

What more perfect summer entertainment for the whole family could there be then to join Huck Finn as he grabs his grand adventure rafting down the Mississippi River and with a runaway slave named Jim as companion?  Could life be any more thrilling?  Not if Huck first fakes his own death so no one, especially not his abusive and drunken father Pap (Steve Greenstein) or his smothering mothering guardian The Widow Douglas (Gail Yudain), will look for him.

Mark Twain wrote this ground- breaking story in 1884, of a young white boy traveling with a black slave, and William Hauptman, with spirited music by Roger Miller, have transformed it a century later for the stage.  Until Sunday, August 1, Summer Theatre of New Canaan at Waveny Park is giving it a wonderful production in its superb, rain-or-shine, outdoor open-air canopy theater.

Christian Libonati is adorable and feisty as the incorrigible Huck, whose had more than enough of book learning and wants to experience life for himself.  He teams up with a courageous Jim, played with fervor by Joshua W. Heggie, who desperately wants to earn the money to free and reunite his family.

Huck gets all the excitement he could ask for when his path crosses with the King (Drew Davidson) and The Duke (Lou Ursone), who are conniving thieves.  He also gets to rescue a maiden in distress (Kate Bodenheimer) and impersonate his best pal Tom Sawyer (Edmund Bagnell).  All the while, the story is propelled with great music like “Waitin’ for the Light to Shine,” “Muddy Waters,” “River in the Rain” and “Free at Last.”  Melody Libonati directs this heartwarming tale.

For tickets ($25-50), call Summer Theatre of New Canaan, 10 Farm Road, New Canaan High School entrance, (exit 37 off the Merritt) at 203-966-4634 or online at www.stonc.org.  Performances are Wednesday to Sunday at 7:45 p.m.

Join Huck, who refuses to be civilized, and his pal Jim as they travel the muddy waters of the Mississippi seeking a new life and a grand adventure.

 

 

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