Village Theatre’s "Big River" is an adventure in entertainment

Village Theatre ought a be kicking up its heels and doing a jig with the success of its stunning musical “Big River.”

This flawless production (direction by Steve Tomkins) shone like the harvest moon from top to bottom – the sets, staging, singing, acting, it was all spit-shine perfect. I defy anyone to find one gosh-dang thing wrong with this show.

It may be cheesy to say but I believe even Mark Twain would be filled with praise.

Truly Twain’s classic novel, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” came to musical life. My 8-year-old son, who had the privilege of hearing those adventures from his daddy who read the book to him twice, was enthralled.

These adventures took place mostly on the Mississippi and throughout the show, the scene of the river on stage was always in sight, shimmering (lighting designer Tom Sturge) in a way that kept the story flowing and sent the message that Huck was always on the move.

The sets in general were amazing. Scenic designer Scott Fyfe performed some kind of magic on that stage especially with how Huck and Jim’s raft really did seem to be floating along, taking us all on their journey as well.

Speaking of these two main actors, Randy Scholz as Huck and Rodney Hicks as Jim, seemed to appear on stage right from Twain’s pages. Their acting was superb and their duets, especially the gorgeous “River in the Rain,” were beautifully sung.

The music and lyrics were done by legendary Roger Miller and though you may not know the tunes by the song titles, there will definitely be one or two or three that you will be humming after the show. The music shone with diversity from bluegrass to gospel.

Music director Tim Symons should be recognized for making the music’s roots reflect the style so he presented the music with a seven-piece band – as opposed to an orchestra pit full of brass – that includes on stage performers Eric Chapelle on fiddle and John Patrick Lowrie on banjo and in the subdued role of Twain.

Other standouts in the show include Greg McCormick Allen as The Duke and his hilarious sidekick Richard Gray as The King; the scary yet fascinating David Anthony Lewis, who made watching Pap like watching a car wreck, and John David Scott, who played firebrand Tom Sawyer.

“Big River” is big entertainment with big themes and big music with plenty to enthrall even younger audiences, especially if they’ve had the pleasure of knowing the Huck Finn story.

“Big River” runs through Nov. 18 at Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave, Everett. Tickets are $22 to $63. Go to Village Theatreor call 425-257-8600.

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