Mark Twain's iconic characters are in the spotlight in the latest production at Munster's Theatre at the Center.
"Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," which continues through Oct. 15, opened the theater's 2017-18 season on a high note.
The musical production tells the popular story of character Huck Finn, his adventures meeting various characters, con-men and swindlers and the mishaps, fun times and experiences surrounding life along the river banks. Finn's adventures include Tom Sawyer, slave Jim and others.
Topics such as slavery, racism, the importance of friendship, loyalty and other subjects figure prominently in the Huck Finn tale, which was written by Twain in the late 1800s.
The Huckleberry Finn story isn't usually told in a musical format. And this production stands out prominently for its musical score, which was written by popular singer/composer Roger Miller. (Yes, it's the same Miller of "King of the Road," "Dang Me" and "England Swings" fame.)
While the play seems to run on a little longer than it need be, the cast performances are top-notch. The score is filled with a blend of catchy, humorous and poignant songs that are written in folk, country, gospel and bluegrass styles.
The 14-member cast stars James Romney as Huck and Jonathan Butler-Duplessis as slave Jim. Romney and Butler-Duplessis interact well together. Their vocals blend in harmony, particularly in the tune "Worlds Apart."
Another interesting aspect of the show is that various actors take on a number of different characters throughout the course of the production. In addition, they occasionally pick up instruments to play in the on-stage band.
Among performers starring in "Big River" are Kyle Quinlivan as Tom Sawyer; Brett Tuomi as Pap, the School Master, The King and others; Jason Richards as Judge Thatcher, The Duke and others; and Caitlin Cavannaugh as Mary Jane and others.
Linda Fortunato, artistic director of TATC, is the production's director. "Big River" garnered seven Tony Awards, including awards for Best Musical and Best Score in 1985.
FYI: "Big River: The Adventures of Mark Twain" runs through Oct. 15 at Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster. Tickets range from $40 to $44. Call 219-836-3255 or visit TheatreAtTheCenter.com.