‘Big River’ opens this weekend in South Orange

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SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — InterACT Theatre Productions presents the musical “Big River” this month at the Baird Center in South Orange. The cast and crew, led by director and set designer Nicholas J. Clarey, are thrilled to perform the musical version of Mark Twain’s timeless story about Huckleberry Finn for three weekends starting this Friday, May 6. There will be a total of eight performances, to be staged at the Baird Theatre on Three, with closing night being Saturday, May 21.

Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees begin at 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at interactproductions.tix.com or at the box office, available an hour before the performance if the performance is not yet sold out.

“Big River” was written by William Hauptman, with music and lyrics by Roger Miller, the king of country music. It takes us on a journey of pure Americana down the mighty Mississippi as the irrepressible Huck Finn help his friend Jim, a slave, escape to freedom at the mouth of the Ohio River. Their adventures along the way are hilarious, suspenseful and heartwarming. The original 1985 Broadway production ran for more than 1,000 performances and won multiple Tonys, including best musical.

The cast consists of a whopping 32 actors, and is a mix of familiar and new interACT faces. Teenager Will Ehren, a student at New York City’s LaGuardia High School, plays Huck, while J. Marshall Evans, also from New York City, plays Jim. Chris Learn co-stars as Tom Sawyer, Trevor Jones as King, Whitney Pillsbury as Duke, Kathryn Stathakis as Mary Jane Wilkes, David Wren-Hardin as Pap Finn and Dean Nielsen as Mark Twain. Joining director Clarey on the crew are musical director Holland Jancaitis, stage manager Melissa Milne, producers Sabrina Santoro and Meara Franowicz, lighting designer Zach Pizza and costumer Lisa Black.

“Big River” is the final production for the company’s current 2015-2016 season. Founded in 2009, interACT Theatre Productions has been bringing theater to the community for seven seasons. Past musical productions include “Leader of the Pack,” “Into the Woods” and “Carrie: The Musical.” The 2016-2017 season will be announced later this summer.

Photos Courtesy of Mark Parker

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