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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

Entertaining, Enchanting, Interesting, Great singing

See it if you love to read the classic Mark Twain.

Don't see it if you find Huckleberry Finn boring.

Also The voices are powerful. The history that we all know can be slow. It ... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Relevant, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you like Roger Miller's music or are interested in a musical version of Huckleberry Finn.

Don't see it if you're in the mood to see a light entertainment.

Great singing, Refreshing, Disappointing, Entertaining, Overrated

See it if You like great singing. Very talented cast. The band is wonderful.

Don't see it if You want deep acting. A lot is very surfacey, but there are some tender moments.

Great singing, Cute, Slow, Too much grimacing

See it if you want to hear 4 great numbers (2 duets and 2 gospels). Good collaboration of Huck and Jim actors. Cute little country ensemble.

Don't see it if you don't like grimacing on stage - it took half of the time! Huck/Jim scenes were good. The music is very simple and the numbers too short.

Disappointing, Slow, Dated, Uninteresting, Passe

See it if you like period pieces.

Don't see it if you need a song or a melody to remember. I am in the minority as I read the reviews from the papers and they are mostly positive.

Also I didn't even stay for the second act which is not like me as I never ... Read more Read less

Entertaining, A country-fied 10-piece on-stage orchestra,, Gospel-inflected slave-chorus feature fantastic soloists, Mark twain's comedic words still resonate today!, Roger miller's haunting (& also comedic) music gets better w/ every song!

See it if A country-fied orchestra, a Gospel-ly Slave-chorus, Mark Twain's words, Roger Miller's songs, & a game cast make this THE entertainment pick

Don't see it if If U dislike all of the above elements or U don't like being pressured into seeing it by the 12th (Broadway transfer PLEEZ!!). Use of N-word

Great singing, Funny, Entertaining, Dated, Indulgent

See it if You've already got a soft spot for the musical and just want to hear the music sung well.

Don't see it if You think having heavy handed diverse ensemble casting choices in a show already about race is counterproductive

Disappointing, Great singing, Overrated

See it if you are a fan of the show.

Don't see it if you aren't a fan of the show or feel this doesn't belong at Encores. Or you want to see HAMILTON.

Entertaining, Fun, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You love Mark Twain, "Huck Finn," and classic musicals.

Don't see it if You don't like bluegrass or gospel

Great singing, Great band, Slow, Classic

See it if You want to see a well cast Huck and Jim in this rarely done musical. Great on-stage band, too!

Don't see it if You don't like huckleberry finn. Also, if you are looking for an exciting evening. Act 1 is a lot of fun, act 2 has always been boring.

Nice score, Great singing, Great acting, Pedestrian staging, Weak book

See it if Love Mark Twain. Enjoy a peppy score well sung.

Don't see it if Want lots of action. Half the story is narrated rather than acted out. Expect the big Encore's orchestra this one's cut down.

Also The staging and production (not the acting and singing) looked and fel... Read more Read less

Clever, Great acting, Great singing, Quirky, Slow

See it if You Live good singing in a country and bluegrass style. Leads are wonderful

Don't see it if Act one is sweet but simplistic. Act two muddled.

Great singing, Dated, Slow, Great orchestration, Great acting

See it if You love Mark Twain. Stylized treatment of painful history makes it dated. First act slow, picked up greatly in second act, worth seeing.

Don't see it if Vaudeville treatment of slavery offends or if you don't like Twain, whose book literally narrates the show.

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you love Mark Twain, bluegrass-y music, and lovely performances. Plus, the orchestra was fantastic!

Don't see it if you like a fully staged show with big sets, a standard Broadway sound, or dislike musicals in general.

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if you like Blue Grass, gospel, country, Twain, great performances, timeless themes, have never seen this Broadway classic, yearn to again

Don't see it if country music isn't your thing. That's going to be the biggest stumbling block; the rest of it's so wonderful it'll win you over!

Also Nicholas Barasch, who plays Huck Finn in this production, is the bigge... Read more Read less

Must see, Great score, Great staging, Great singing, Resonant

See it if want to hear a uniquely wonderful score by Roger Miller, a loving adaptation, and the kind of production that gives Encores its reputation.

Don't see it if you don't like soulful country music or are not interested in a portrait of one of America's darkest periods made engaging by a great writer

Dated, Disappointing, Overrated, Excruciating

See it if you like country/bluegrass music, and stories about racism that focus mostly on white people.

Don't see it if You prefer stores about race and slavery to focus on non-white people, you don't like country music.

Also In 2017, it's wildly offensive to see a musical supposedly about disco... Read more Read less

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if You want to see a masterful performance by Nicholas Barasch. You want great songs and a great story.

Don't see it if If you do not like semi stages productions. You hate country music.

Dated, Great singing, Overrated, Thought-provoking

See it if Want a simple revival of this production with good singers but high school level staging

Don't see it if Are easy offended by the "N" word or bothered by productions dealing with slavery.

Entertaining, Great singing, Intelligent, Resonant, Must see

See it if Lover of amazing music and fun and beautiful story

Don't see it if If you are expecting a big set. It is just a stage mostly with a band. I will say I didn't miss the lack of scenery at all though

Enchanting, Great acting, Dated, Great direction, Great music & orchestra

See it if you enjoy great acting and directing. I've enjoyed Lear DeBessonet's work at the Public and this was wonderful too.

Don't see it if you don't like country music. But the Encores orchestra is so talented, you will enjoy anyway! I found the lighting too bland.

Noble attempt. respectful. pleasant, but unfulfilling.

See it if You love country music and are interested in the history of musical theatre (and Tony winners).

Don't see it if You can't see the point in adding music to Huck Finn. You think the book is a masterpiece and this musical is not.

Also I'd never seen or heard Big River and I tried to take it on its own te... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Banal, Dated, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to see how this Tony-winner-by-default holds up

Don't see it if you expect it to

Also It was generally well done, if hardly brilliant, but in the end it was... Read more Read less

Delightful, Great singing, Relevant, Charming

See it if You possibly can....only a few more performances.

Don't see it if You like elaborate scenery and huge production numbers.

Great singing, Overrated, Funny, Profound, Slow

See it if Huckleberry Finn told with country songs improves Twain's comic tale of fellow river travelers in an era of racial discord. Muddied waters.

Don't see it if Faithful to a fault with excessive narration runs a musical aground. Show occasionally soars but most songs just repeat what's understood.

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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