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Big River

From 114 member  reviews
Members say: Great singing, Entertaining, Delightful, Great acting, Dated

About the show

Encores! presents a concert version of the 1985 Tony Award-winning musical based on 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.' More…

A musical retelling of Mark Twain’s classic novel about friendship, freedom, and the untamed Mississippi, 'Big River' was an underdog as scrappy and restless as Huckleberry Finn himself. The show was created in the age of British spectacles by a quintessentially American artist—the beloved country and western singer Roger Miller—and his Tony-winning score is a blend of bluegrass, gospel, and honky-tonk. More than 30 years later, 'Big River' remains an affecting journey through 1840s America in all its beauty and savagery.

Member Reviews (114)


Great singing, Entertaining, Delightful, Great acting, Dated
Avg Score

Dated, Disappointing, Slow

See it if Nice to revisit a show from my past but thought it felt dated. Performances were weaker than I remember. Missable.

Don't see it if You need a fully staged show with sets and costume changes, etc...

Great acting, Slow, Resonant, Good singing, Disappointing

See it if Lackluster presentation of Miller's Tony winner. Nick Barasch & Kyle Scatliffe shine as Huck & Jim & duets are high point esp Worlds Apart

Don't see it if DeBessonet's vision rather dark yet pointed taking some of the sugar off Miller's songs; music doesn't really gel with story. 2nd act drifts

Delightful, Entertaining, Slow

See it if you like country music and a reminder of sadder days re; racial problems

Don't see it if you are expectinga song and dance etravaganza..... but alas we caught the last performance

Pleasant but not inspired musical version of twain's huck finn

See it if 4 excellent country and western band, nice C&W tunes, beautiful harmonies, solid performances by leads

Don't see it if Twain, arch-provocateur, would have thought this rendering of his feisty anti-slavery novel much too safe

Entertaining, Dated, Great singing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy adaptations of classic novels. You want to see great performances & wonderful singing. You like country music.

Don't see it if You want to hear contemporary music: this is '80s country music. You want a classic, Broadway sound. You dislike literary adaptations.

Disappointing, Indulgent, Quirky, Unfulfilling

See it if you're a fan of Huck Finn or stories about race relations.

Don't see it if you think heavy, unnecessary narration detracts from a story.

Delightful, Absorbing, Great acting, Great singing, Thought-provoking

See it if You are a fan of the show or have never seen it. The music is wonderful. Incredible singers.

Don't see it if You don't like musicals.

Big river is a big winner

See it if Nicholas Barasch as Huck and Kyle Scatliffe as Jim as perfectly cast and give wonderful performances. I usually don't care for country music

Don't see it if you are offended by frequent use os the n-word (though it is authentic Twain). I liked Huck's drunken Trumpian father's "Guv'ment" song rant

Also Nick's smile, his voice and his curly red hair are to die for. He is l... Read more Read less

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Dated, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy country/blue grass "broadway" tunes, great voices, Lauren Worsham excels. Young Huck is an NPH in training

Don't see it if don't like Mark Twain

Entertaining, Dated, Fun, Great singing

See it if you want to see an enjoyable production of this play. Fun, good actors, some great singing, and very engaging.

Don't see it if you are not interestetd in this dated story and want more relevant stories for today.

Great singing, Entertaining, Delightful, Lovely score

See it if you like country, blue grass, gospel music; Mark Twain (especially his Huckleberry Finn); simple staging - the raft is clever; narration

Don't see it if you want plot developed thru acting & singing rather than narration (Finn tells his story to the audience); little slow in Act II

Entertaining, Great acting, Refreshing, Relevant

See it if You like musicals with a country music flavor. Huck Finn a good story. Lots of movement, funny moments, terrific acting all around.

Don't see it if You are looking for a typical Broadway musical...this has incidental dancing and lots of dialogue.

Entertaining, Dated, Disappointing, Epic, Relevant

See it if You enjoy scaled down versions of shows, letting the music and story speak for itself

Don't see it if You want a full production or a high-energy show, this was a little one-note & didn't translate as well in this format as other Encore shows

Entertaining, Charming, Nostalgic, Delightful, Slightly-dated

See it if nostalgic for high school literature class or you enjoy seemingly "light" fare with serious undertones (like Twain's works themselves).

Don't see it if you're a Twain purist and can't abide watching his classic American satire reduced to catchy-yet-sometimes-dated songs; seeking new works.

Also I'm an American literature teacher who attended with some high-school ... Read more Read less

Cliched, Banal, Disappointing

See it if you are curious, but REMEMBER, curiosity KILLED THE CAT!!!

Don't see it if you can get a ticket to ANYTHING else other than Kid Victory, The Price, or Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.

Also I had the great fortune to see the original Broadway production of the... Read more Read less

The orchestra was foot stompin' good, Exuberant!, Nice night if you wanted to let go and have fun., Songs were catchy

See it if You can turn back time, tonight was the last performance. It was fun, light hearted, smile a lot, Mark Twain. Some top notch singing.

Don't see it if You like big scenery, elaborate costumes, laser light pyrotechnics.

Dated, Great singing, Slow

See it if You like understated staging and are a fan of Mark Twain

Don't see it if You don't want to journey back to the 1800s

Enchanting, Dated, Cliched, Great music

See it if You like Mark Twain and/or country music. You want to see a traditional musical.

Don't see it if You don't like musicals based on (comical) 19th century literature or you want something brand-new and fresh.

Also I was surprised by how much of the novel's content was preserved in th... Read more Read less

Great singing, Relevant, Must see, Lyrical

See it if superb voices, a range of lyrical musical genres, excellent performers and wonderfully under-amplified music by cast and orchestra appeal

Don't see it if the Huck Finn story seems to simplistic to you as the basis for a meaningful musical

Also Saw the original and the B'dway revival and this was a purer and bette... Read more Read less

Delightful, Ambitious, Hilarious, Resonant, Great staging

See it if Bravo Encores & director De Bessonet with another fully realized ready-to-transfer production; multiple touching moments from a talentedcast

Don't see it if book is faithful to the Twain text which has multiple cringeworthy moments being faithful to the America of that moment

Disappointing, Overrated, Slow, Great acting, Great singing

See it if you want to see the story of Huckleberry Finn.. Other than that, really not to much to say here. Was looking forward to it, but disappointed

Don't see it if you don't want to site through a long story that really did not bring you in. At times, was just trying to be too whimsical and didn't work.

Must see, Resonant, Touching, Funny, Enchanting

See it if you want to enjoy one the most underrated American musicals! An impeccable story and delightful score makes it an Adventure worth taking!

Don't see it if you don't like "country" music. (I don't but I LOVE this Americana score.) Poignant/relevant so if you only want fluff, it's not for you

Heartfelt, Great singing, Inventive semi-staging, Lots of talent

See it if You liked Bright Star and Bridges of Madison County; this is a similar bit of Americana with a pleasant score and fantastic singing.

Don't see it if You're looking for a "great American classic" score that you'll be humming for days, or if you expect a fully-staged performance.

Odd pacing, Great singing

See it if you are very passionate about the story of Huckleberry Finn

Don't see it if you need a well-paced plot. I feel like this rushed through major plot points and dragged at times when not much was happening on stage.

Entertaining, Dated, Disappointing, Overrated, Sweet

See it if you are ok with dumbed down musical based on the Twain classic.Good singing, especially Scatliffe. Entertaining but misses the point

Don't see it if you want to see something truly relevant to current race relations. Twain book exceedingly more trenchant than this superficial rendering.

February 9th, 2017
"If you are looking for a Huckleberry of irresistible sweetness and rambunctious naïveté, then Lear deBessonet’s buoyant Encores! production is the place to find him...Yet it can’t mask the feeling of anachronism that dogs this show...'Big River' feels like an awkward fit for this moment...It is ...
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February 9th, 2017
"You will not be able to watch 'Big River' without squirming...Other than Jim...the black characters are entirely undifferentiated and unattached to the plot...The authors treat Jim exactly as Huck and the others do: That is, they mostly ignore him...I’m not saying that a story about white people...
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February 10th, 2017
"An all-too-limited engagement justifies its existence with its winning exuberance, terrific performances, and the top-flight musicianship...Landesman has provided a streamlined concert adaptation of Hauptman’s book that keeps the episodic story line flowing as smoothly as the Mississippi River. ...
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February 9th, 2017
"The Encores! production of 'Big River' is, in a word, perfect. And, in a few other words, moving, powerful and exhilarating...This superb staged by Lear deBessonet, who has done miraculous work at the Public Theatre. It’s spirited and lively and the cast couldn’t be better: up-and-c...
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