When I was a kid, my siblings and I grew up doing shows together. For some reason, only my brother did BIG RIVER. I vividly remember sitting in the audience entranced. The songs were catchy, heartfelt and moving. To this day, it is still one of my families favorite musicals. With that in mind, I was skeptical of seeing it for fear that it would not live up to the grand show I had remembered in my mind. However, New Village Arts did not disappoint!
I’ve said many times that you know if you are going to like a show within the first five minutes. Heck, there have been shows I knew within the first 30 seconds that I would hate it. The opposite was true of this adaptation of BIG RIVER. The blue grass band opened with a rousing overture on the stage. Many of the band members doubled as cast members which allowed for a playful theme.
The set was simple which is exactly the way it should be. There were wood planks, a raft and two levels; that’s it. It allowed the audience to imagine and focus on the characters which I love. *Don’t get me started on projections. Thankfully there was none of that here.
Reed Lievers played Huck and did a great job portraying the giddy and determined youngster. He and Bryan Barbarin (Jim) were a dynamic duo. Their songs together blended very well. I was also very impressed with Morgan Carberry who played Miss Watson, multiple instruments and other smaller roles. She was constantly playing an instrument or delivering lines. With such a small cast, everyone stood out and did a superb job.
This is a show not to be missed. It’s funny, sad, exciting, tragic and so much more. BIG RIVER runs now through April 15th. For more details check out: http://www.newvillagearts.org/
Rating: To Be