|Note the handshapes for the ASL alphabet|
spelling Big River behind Huck and Jim
The revival was unique in that it was a Deaf West Theater production and featured both deaf and hearing actors portraying Mark Twain's iconic characters. All of the dialogue and lyrics were signed and spoken in a creative interplay between the two communication modalities.
I fell in love with Big River when it was originally produced. I would walk past the theater everyday on my way to work and wish I were playing Huck. I'd sing along to the record with my friend Denise, using my bed as a raft whilst belting out the song Muddy Water. It was the first Broadway show my sister ever saw and I was thrilled to take her. It's a brilliant and important show.
I had even played Huckleberry Finn when I was 19 years old in a children's theater production of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
|Playing Huck (bottom right) in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer|
So, when I heard that a local theater was holding auditions for the Deaf West version of Big River I couldn't resist the temptation to show up and give it a go. In this production two actors share the role of Huck and I was pretty sure this would be the last opportunity I'd have to play the crafty 14-year-old. I was auditioning to speak/sing the role for another actor who would be signing on stage. That other Huck would need to fit the character description, I did not.
It all worked out beautifully. I was offered the role - something to cross off my bucket list! I look forward to throwing myself into a creative endeavor that is outside the confines of formal education. And I couldn't ask for anything better than Big River and Huck!