Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Perhaps the most influential of American novels, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn also spawned a musical (first brought to life at Cambridge’s American Repertory Theater) that went on to win seven Tony Awards on Broadway. The tale of Huck and Jim’s journey down the Mississippi — complete with Roger “King of the Road” Miller’s score — comes back to town in a Lyric Stage Company production.
Lyric Stage Company of Boston revives the Tony-winning musical based on Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and neither the theater piece — which intersperses Roger Miller’s score with a first-person narrative by William Hauptman — nor director Spiro Veloudos supply Twain’s wryly anti-racist 1884 tome with much satiric edge. With his clean plaid shirt and age-of-innocence face, Jordan Ahnquist’s Huck hardly defies “sivilizin’”. But the production is well sung, particularly by Ahnquist and De’Lon Grant (as Jim). In the second act, Huck does indeed wrestle with the twisted moral code that surrounds him, but he must do so to weaker lyrics and tunes, including those of “Worlds Apart,” the rather soupy duo in which Huck comes to understand his and Jim’s mutual humanity. Moreover, too much of the second act is given to the shady vaudeville shenanigans of King and Duke, showily inhabited by J.T. Turner and Peter A. Carey. And in one small but piquant scene, they get introduced in song to “Arkansas” by the touchingly idiotic Young Fool of Nicholas Lee. No offense to the beatific hayseed, but this show is way smarter than he is.