‘Big River’ runs through Demopolis

Published 10:01 pm Friday, July 31, 2009

It seems that the mischievous yet fictional boy Huckleberry Finn can never get enough adventure. In fact, Huck and his crew will be venturing to Demopolis for the weekend to share their escapades with the community

The musical “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” will be held on the stage of the Old School of Demopolis on Aug. 1 and 2. After selling more than 800 tickets in Thomasville last weekend, the Canebrake Players and Thomasville Arts Council joint cast will host three performances in Demopolis over the course of the weekend.

“Big River” director and Thomasville native Karen Dean decided on this summer’s show after learning about the upcoming program “The Big Read.”

“Next year, the National Endowment for the Arts is going to ask the entire state of Alabama to read ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,’” Dean said. “When I was trying to pick a show, I thought, ‘What better way to pique people’s interest than to remind them of these delightful characters [of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer]?’”

Dean is no newcomer to the Canebrake Players. She has directed Canebrake shows such as “Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Good Doctor” and “All Shook Up.”

Putting together a show with a cast from two different cities is a difficult yet achievable task for Dean.

“It’s different but fun, and it has taken some time to get the cities together,” Dean said. “I love the Canebrake, and I always look forward to working here.”

Local talent in the show includes Johnny Johnston as Mark Twain, Mike Baker as Huck’s father Pap Finn and Laurie Willingham as a notorious “tart.”

Morgan Cooper is part of the backstage crew, Kelley Smith is the show’s choreographer and Kirk Brooker plays the “King” and is serving as assistant director and set designer.

Canebrake Players followers may also recognize a familiar face in Huckleberry Finn. Jeremy Overstreet, a Thomasville native and University of Mobile graduate, played Sheriff Earl in last summer’s musical, “All Shook Up.”

The character of Jim is played by Auburn student and Opelika native Jamal Trimble. Trimble temporarily moved to Thomasville for the summer to devote his energy and extensive talent to the show.

“We will all be lucky to say we knew him way back when,” Dean said of Trimble’s incredible vocal ability.

The show “Big River” opened on Broadway in 1985 and features country and bluegrass-style music to tell the story of Mark Twain’s classic novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Performances will be held on Saturday, Aug. 1, at 7 p.m. An afternoon show will be held on Sunday, Aug. 2, at 2 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students.