Thursday, May 1, 2008

Big River...opens tomorrow!!!

Big River

Written by William Hauptman

Music and Lyrics by Roger Miller

A rousing, high spirited show that sets your hands to clapping, your feet stomping and your heart to rise within you! Based on Mark Twain's incredible story of Huck Finn, Big River takes place along the Mississippi River Valley sometime in the late 1840’s. It was one of the most robust and shameful times in our country. The country was expanding and the practice of slavery had reached historical levels. Big River celebrates the story of a young white boy and a run a-way slave and their friendship against all odds.

A delightfully melodic score, Big River is a joyful show for the whole family!

The play maintains the usage of racial language which is offensive to contemporary audiences. Please watch for community dialogues our Community Institute will sponsor to encourage discussion and promote understanding regarding the language of race.

Performance Times:

All evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m.

Matinee performances begin at 2:00 p.m. and are held on the 2nd & 3rd Saturday's of each performance series.


'Big River' at the Grand
The Grand Theatre's production of the musical "Big River" opens Friday and plays through May 17.
The musical, set in the late 1840s, is based on Mark Twain's novel about Huck Finn. Against the backdrop of the Mississippi River, the musical tells the story of the unlikely friendship between a young white boy and a runaway slave. The play maintains the antiquated racial language of the period, which might sound offensive to contemporary audiences.
"Big River" is directed by Jim Christian, theater professor at Weber State University, and features Gary Neilson as Twain, Andrew Marshall as Huck and Greg Boarden as Jim. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 7-10 and May 13-17, with 2 p.m. matinees on May 10 and 17. Tickets are $18-$24 for floor seats, $10 for balcony seats (group, senior and student discounts), available by calling 801-957-3322 or visiting
A discussion with the director and actors will be at 4 p.m. May 17. The theater is at 1575 S. State St., Salt Lake City.

'Big River' deals with a big language issue

By Erica Hansen
Deseret News
Published: Sunday, April 27, 2008 1:16 a.m. MDT

Huckleberry Finn and runaway slave Jim set out to float down the ol' Mississippi River as the Grand Theatre opens its production of the Tony award-winning "Big River," a musical adaptation of the Mark Twain classic "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

The musical, by Roger Miller, who is responsible for the classic country hits "King of the Road" and "Dang Me," is filled with bluegrass and folk tunes like "Waitin' for the Light to Shine," "Worlds Apart" and "The Boys."

But anytime Huck Finn shows up, regardless of its status as an American classic, controversy follows.

Over the years, many schools have struggled with its content, and parents have tried to get the book removed from the curriculum.

At issue: language.

"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" uses the N-word more than 200 times, mostly said by Huck when referring to his slave friend, Jim.

"Big River" has kept Twain's language, using the word 17 times, and the Grand Theatre has chosen to do the same.

"The intention in keeping the language in there, Twain wrote it for a reason. And as difficult as it is, it shows where we are, and where we've come from," said Richard Scott, artistic director at the Grand.

To address the language issue, the Grand will have a brief announcement by a prominent member of the black community addressing the language prior to every show. It will also host a post-show discussion after the matinee on May 17.
"We wanted to make sure we brought that to life. It affects members of our community: our friends, our neighbors. We wanted to give it a little more vitality," Scott said.

"It was very intentional by Twain to use those racist words and what they meant. Because of contemporary society and the pain that that language can create, we thought it was important to address it and encourage people to talk about it."

Still, Huck Finn is a great adventure that, at its heart, is a story about friendship — a friendship against all odds.

"Big River" opens Friday and runs through May 19 at the Grand Theatre, 1575 S. State. Shows dates vary, show times are 7:30 p.m. with 2 p.m. matinees available. Tickets: $5-$24 (801-957-3322 or

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