LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI is a new musical play by Philip W. Hall now playing at the Workshop Theater. It is a tale of Sam and his brother Henry who are trying to become steamboat men on the Mississippi river before the American Civil War. It is loosely based on Mark Twain’s 1883 memoir and is filled with an all male cast.
The space itself was small and intimate which gave the audience a feeling of closeness. The floors were all wood and the walls were painted with lush green trees and a large blue riverbend. A wooden steering wheel was placed center stage atop a platform with the sign “Paul Jones” above it. Other minor props and set pieces were sprinkled around the edges. The four piece band was placed at the back of the stage and each person played a variety of instruments including the keyboard, guitar, mandolin, banjo and violin.
Andrew Hubacher played Sam, a rambunctious boy who had enough gumption to become a steamboat pilot. He worked diligently under the leadership of the lead pilot, Horace Bixby, played by Jeff Paul. Andrew was a fabulous actor and truly carried the show by fully immersing himself in the part. He delivered his lines with heart and had facial expressions to match his emotions. We saw many different sides of him; the caring older brother, determined student of his craft and the angry young man who wasn’t afraid to stick up for himself when he needed to. When he sang, it was light and sweet.
Although the story was mostly based around Sam and the key people in his life, there was also a love story. Not your typical boy meets girl, more like, boy meets river. It truly was a love letter to the mighty Mississippi. Along the way, we also met the chorus of men who played deckhands. They harmonized very well and really added to the beauty of the story.
If you like Mark Twain and classic pieces of theater, this is a show for you to see. BIG RIVER is one of my all time favorite musicals and LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI displayed elements that reminded me of it. For more information check out the Workshop Theater’s website: http://workshoptheater.org/mainstage/2013/life_on_the_mississippi
Rating: To Be