Deaf West Big River Launches Tour From Houston in Summer of 2004

By Ernio Hernandez
12 Dec 2003

A scene from the Broadway revival of Big River
A scene from the Broadway revival of Big River
Photo by Joan Marcus

The Deaf West Theatre production of the American Sign Language adaptation of Big River, will launch its tour from Houston in the summer of 2004, a production spokesperson confirmed.

Kicking off at Houston's Theatre Under The Stars, the staging is also scheduled to play at Dallas Summer Musicals, Atlanta's Theater of the Stars, Boston's Wang Center and at the Aoyama Theatre in Tokyo, Japan. The latter is a collaboration with Hori Pro and Gorgeous Entertainment — the company also teaming with the Roundabout Theatre Company to bring Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Pacific Overtures to Broadway next fall.

The staging, which uses deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing actors, will be continuing the tour in through the fall of 2004. Dates and more engagements are to be announced.

The Broadway run, which opened at the American Airlines Theatre July 24 to positive reviews. The co-production between Roundabout Theatre Company and Deaf West in association with The Mark Taper Forum ended Sept. 21.



Jeff Calhoun (Bells Are Ringing, Grease) once again directs and choreographs the musical — with music and lyrics by Roger Miller and book by William Hauptman — based on the novel by Mark Twain.

In the production, songs and dialogue are both sung and signed with actors doubling as characters — one speaking and singing and one signing.

This Big River was originally produced at the Deaf West Theatre in North Hollywood, California in 2001. It then transferred to the larger Mark Taper Forum in 2002. The staging won six Los Angeles Ovation Awards and five Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Awards including Best Musical for both.

Tyrone Giordano made his Broadway debut in the role of Huck, which he originated at the Deaf West Theatre and reprised for the Mark Taper Forum run. Voicing the role of Huck and playing Mark Twain was Dan Jenkins — a Tony nominee for his turn as Huck in the original 1985 production of the Roger Miller-William Hauptman musical. No casting has been announced for the tour.