HUCK FINN IS RIDING THE ‘’BIG RIVER’’ INTO SHARON

Bonnie Goldberg

As an impetuous youth, did you ever contemplate building a split rail raft and sailing down the Mississippi? Probably not, unless your name is Huckleberry Finn and you have a burning desire for adventure and freedom. The Sharon Playhouse in Sharon, atthe foothills of the Berkshires, is inviting you to hop aboard that sturdy floating vessel for a rousing good time as “Big River” sets sail until Sunday, July 31.

Our old friend Mark Twain has penned this lazy summer day of entertainment, with book by William Hauptmann and music and lyrics by Roger Miller. It is filled with characters, villains and nice folks, as a brave Huck, bent on experiencing escapades and escaping the clutches of the virtuous Widow Douglas (Ginny Rickard) and Miss Watson (Susan Hackel) as well as the paws of his alcoholic Pap (Travis Mitchell), runs away from home. With him, for companionship and protection, is the Widow’s faithful slave Jim. He too seeks freedom and a chance to earn the right to purchase his wife and children from bondage.

Joseph Allen is wonderful, full of pluck and charm, as a youth who never wants to grow up and Nicholas Ward is outstanding as the runaway slave, Jim, one whose bass voice is chillingly powerful in such songs, with Huck, as “Muddy Waters,” “River in the Rain” and “Free at Last.”

Huck is trying his darndest to make sure he never gets into heaven and he sees the raft ride as a plum good way to guarantee he stumbles into as much rough and tumble trouble as possible. Before he can say the name of his good friend Tom Sawyer (Alex Dorf) three times, he is caught up in the schemes and shenanigans of two river rats named The Duke (Thomas Cannizzaro) and the King (Travis Mitchell), who con their way aboard the raft as they try to exhort money from the good folks in the river towns.

Huck surely gets his fair share of adventures, even getting to pretend to be a ghost, as he oversees Jim’s quest for being a free man. As he says himself, I have “considerable trouble and considerable joy.” John Simpkins directs this wonderful saga of a country lad who earns his stripes the hard way and grows up in the process.

For tickets ($ 15-47), call the Sharon Playhouse, 49 Amenia Road, Sharon at 860-364-7469 or online at www.sharonplayhouse.org. Performances are Thursday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Come join Huck Finn as he declares sincerely that he “don’t want to be civilized, no way, no how” yet manages to come of age and learn the true meaning of friendship in the process. But be forewarned: Mark Twain cautions that “persons attempting to find a plot will be shot."

 

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