REVIEW: Big River (Bohemian Theatre Ensemble)

 

BoHo takes a heartwarming trip down the Mississippi

 

 A scene from Boho Theatre Ensemble's "Big River", performing now at Theater Wit thru October 10th

 
Bohemian Theatre Ensemble presents
 
Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
 
Music/Lyrics: Roger Miller, Book: William Hauptman
Adapted from the novel by Mark Twain
Directed by
P. Marston Sullivan
Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, Chicago (map)
Through Oct. 10 |
Tickets: $25 |  more info

Reviewed by Leah A. Zeldes

Widely considered the greatest American novel ever written, Mark Twain’s 1884 coming-of-age tale, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, received a lively musical treatment 100 years after its publication in Big River. The Tony Award-winning musical, which ran 1,000 performances on Broadway, captures the charm and  A scene from Boho Theatre Ensemble's "Big River", performing now at Theater Wit thru October 10thpoignancy of the original, as we follow Huck and the escaped slave Jim down the "Muddy Water" of the Mississippi River, "Waitin’ for the Light to Shine" — as the songs put it. Although no stage production could possibly encompass all the nuances of Twain’s masterpiece, this well-cut adaptation by William Hauptman delivers the essence, paired with a fitting, catchy score by country-music star Roger Miller that blends foot-stompin’ bluegrass, powerful spirituals, vaudevillian comedy numbers and such memorable ballads as "River in the Rain."

Bohemian Theatre Ensemble mounts a warm, intimate and beautifully sung revival in their handsome new home at Lakeview’s Theater Wit, full of bouyant humor and touching moments.

Andrew Mueller gives us a gamin-faced, thoughtful Huck with a fine tenor. As Jim, the richly voiced Brian-Alwyn Newland provides the backbone of the music, smooth and soulful, combined with a dignified stage presence that reveals the mature and feeling man behind the tattered clothes and uneducated language of the slave.

Sean Thomas makes a wicked Pap Finn, hilarious in his drunken denouncement of "Guv’ment," and a diabolical king and "Royal Nonesuch," aided by the elegant John B. Leen as the sly and histrionic duke. Courtney Crouse is boyishly mischievous as Tom Sawyer, always ready for adventure and adorable as he calls for a "Hand for the Hog."

Rashada Dawan brings a soaring voice to gospel numbers such as "How Blest We Are," and Mike Tepeli adds a comic turn as the young fool, with a zany, washboard-accompanied rendition of "Arkansas."

A scene from Boho Theatre Ensemble's "Big River", performing now at Theater Wit thru October 10th A scene from Boho Theatre Ensemble's "Big River", performing now at Theater Wit thru October 10th
A scene from Boho Theatre Ensemble's "Big River", performing now at Theater Wit thru October 10th A scene from Boho Theatre Ensemble's "Big River", performing now at Theater Wit thru October 10th

Much of the cast supplements the orchestra at different points, picking up guitars,box, or a tambourine to effectively back Musical Director Nicholas Davio playing a variety of instruments, Hilary Holbrook on fiddle and Cam McIntyre on bass. Davio and Holbrook also act small parts. Christa Buck, Anna Hammonds and James Williams fill out the ensemble.

Director P. Marston Sullivan’s deceptively simple staging and Anders Jacobson and Judy Radovsky’s stylized set put the talented cast and Twain’s potent story foremost. You don’t need to have read "Huckleberry Finn" to enjoy this musical, although everybody ought to read it … again and again.

   
  
Rating: ★★★½
  
  

A scene from Boho Theatre Ensemble's "Big River", performing now at Theater Wit thru October 10th

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Wednesday Wordplay: Martha Stewart and Facebook Bingo

 Motivational Quotes

 

wright The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.
 
          — Frank Lloyd Wright

Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.
            — Henry David Thoreau

 

marthaLife is too complicated not to be orderly.
            — Martha Stewart, quoted in Harper’s Bazaar

Poverty cannot deprive us of many consolations. It cannot rob us of the affection we have for each other, or degrade us in our own opinion, of in that of any person, whose opinion we ought to value.
            — Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho, 1764

 

feinsteinToughness doesn’t have to come in a pinstriped suit.
            — Senator Dianne Feinstein

One thing I’ve learned in all these years is not to make love when you really don’t feel it; there’s probably nothing worse you can do to yourself than that.
            — Norman Mailer

 

Mark Twain on the length of German words and sentences:

"Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth." -Mark Twain "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court"

 

 

Facebook bingo

(noun) On Facebook, this term refers to a posted photo that features five or more people, all of whom have Facebook profiles and are accurately tagged.

At a dinner table of 10 people – "Let’s get the waitress to take a picture of us! OMG, this is totally gonna be a Facebook bingo!"

 


 

English explorations 

 

“Queen’s English” and the upper class usage of “one” 

From: http://www.ic.arizona.edu/~lsp/QueensEnglish.html

  • The "Royal ONE"
    The pronominal usage of "one" is not only stereotypically associated with the upper classes, and especially the Royal Family, but that is also used frequently in their real life. There are a number of ways that the word "one" is used in place of "I", and it has also been seen to be commonly used in those people connected with the Royal Family. Friends of the family as well as household help like the Queen’s dresser or an ex-cook have been heard to use the phrase "one" in place of "I."
    Examples:
    "One says to oneself: "Oh God, there’s one’s daughter"
    (Father of the Duchess of York – quoted from The Star, July 1986)
    "One hesitates to use such a trite word as delighted, but of course one IS delighted"
    (The Queen’s dresser – quoted on receiving his knighthood – The Guardian, June 1989)
  • General pronunciation
    The Queen and Older Royals might pronounce the following words as noted.
    Examples:
    house = hice
    off = orf
    tower = tar
    refined = refained
    Younger royals might exhibit the following types of pronunciations:
    really = rairly
    milk = miuk
    yes = yah
    St. Paul’s = St. Pauw’s

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Wednesday Wordplay: Writer’s Crap and Irving Berlin

Urban Dictionary

Writer’s Crap

Derived from ‘writer’s cramp’, writer’s crap refers to a stage when one is only capable of writing utter crap.

‘That story was horrible, i think she’s got a bad case of writer’s crap.

 

Quotations

The toughest thing about success is that you’ve got to keep on being a success. Talent is only a starting point in this business. You’ve got to keep on working that talent. Someday I’ll reach for it and it won’t be there.
            — Irving Berlin, 1958

[Medicine is] a collection of uncertain prescriptions the results of which, taken collectively, are more fatal than useful to mankind.
            — Napoleon Bonaparte

The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.
            — Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935

Cool beans – a great Chicago theater is reborn!

organicphotosmall_1 From Organic Theater’s homepage:

In the 1970s, when Chicago’s vibrant theater scene was earning the city a national reputation as the place to be for exciting new theater, few companies shone brighter than the Organic.  It was quintessential Chicago theater, a mirror for its time.  Today’s Organic Theater is still a mirror for its time, with a bold new vision and audacious new mission. At the Organic, you’ll experience sparkling new adaptations and world classics rarely seen in Chicago, performed in rotating repertory by a permanent company of artists. The new Organic is an adventure –  artists and audience together exploring great stories, well told.  (emphasis mine)

 

The 2009 Repertory Season

 

 

Sexual Perversity in Chicago

and

Bobby Gould in Hell
both by David Mamet


 

The $30,000 Bequest
by Mark Twain

Synopsis and creative/performing teams after the fold.

Performed in Rotating Repertory
May 28 – June 28, 2009
Greenhouse Theatre Center (map below)

Tickets:  773-404-7336, or buy online.


Map of the Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theatre Center, home of Organic Theatre’s 2009 Repertory Season

 

    Organic Theater’s MISSION STATEMENT

Organic Theater Company is committed to a vision of creating productions with a permanent group of artists over a sustained period of time and presenting them a rotating repertory.

This approach, while relatively unusual in the United States, is widely accepted in much of the Western world as the ideal way to make a body of theatrical work.

Rotating repertory creates the opportunity for a unique relationship between the company and its audience, one in which the same actor can be seen in a variety of roles over a short period of time. It also allows the actors to work as a single instrument, much like the world’s great orchestras and dance companies.

 

 

  

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