Roundabout-Deaf West Big River Opens on Broadway July 24; Cast Set
By Ernio Hernandez
Deaf West Theatre's revival of Big River — a unique production using deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing actors — has announced a July 24 Broadway opening at the American Airlines Theatre. The Roundabout Theatre Company and Deaf West present the restaging in association with the Mark Taper Forum.
Jeff Calhoun (Bells Are Ringing, Grease) directs and choreographs the musical — with music and lyrics by Roger Miller and book by William Hauptman — based on the novel by Mark Twain. Steven Landau returns as musical director. The limited engagement will begin performances July 1 and run through Sept. 14.
Deaf West Theatre incorporates deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing actors in the casts of their musicals and plays. Songs and dialogue are often sung and signed with actors doubling as characters — one speaking and singing and one signing.
The Broadway cast of Big River will include Michael Arden, Scott Barnhardt, Walter Charles, David Damane, Christina Dunams, Gina Ferrall, Phyllis Frelich, Tyrone Giordano, Dan Jenkins, Lyle Kanouse, Rod Keller, Troy Kotsur, George McDaniel, Michael McElroy, Ryan Schlect, Iosif Schneideman, Gwen Stewart, Melissa Van Der Schyff and Alexandria Wailes.
The design team features Ray Klausen (sets), David R. Zyla (costumes) and Michael Gilliam (lights.)
Big River, which debuted at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre in 1985, is a musical re-telling of Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," concentrating mostly on Finn's travels with the runaway slave Jim as they float down the Mississippi on a raft. Songs in the score include "Waiting for the Light to Shine," "Guv'ment," "Muddy Water," "River in the Rain," "The Royal Nonesuch," "Worlds Apart," "Leaving's Not the Only Way to Go," "You Ought to Be Here With Me" and "Free At Last."
Tickets for Big River, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn will go on sale June 2 through (212) 719-1300 or at the AA Theatre box office, 227 West 42 Street. For more information, visit www.roundabouttheatre.org.
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