Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

By • Apr 20th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre
Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre, Lorton, VA
Through July 3rd
3:00 with intermission
$41.95-$44.95/$35 ages 11-15/$25 Children
Reviewed April 16th, 2011

Big River is the musical adaptation of Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” told with a rousing country, blue-grass inspired score. It is a good family musical (although some may be uncomfortable with the realistic portrayal of racist beliefs in the 1840s south) with a great message about looking beneath a person’s exterior. The Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre has created a solid production with a few extraordinary performances that make the show well-worth attending.

Lazy Susan does not have a very large staging area and didn’t seem to have quite the same set budget as some other theaters, but they did an excellent job of creating a simplistic, clean, and functional set for the production. They made really nice of use of sliding scrims. The lighting followed the same pattern of being simple but largely effective. The costumes were very appropriate; however, several of the women’s hairstyles could have used better attention to detail and period appropriateness.

One of my favorite things about Lazy Susan was the return of old-fashioned projection. The actors did not wear microphones and made themselves heard at all times in speaking and in song. It was very refreshing to see the actors fill the room with their voices alone, even when they were competing with Mother Nature creating a very loud storm outside of the theater.

The cast varied greatly in their ability. Many of the actors and actress charged with the supporting and ensemble roles were not very strong. Two notable exceptions, who did stand out in a myriad of smaller roles, were Anthony Williams and Ian David Neville.

On the other hand, most of the principals were exceptional. Stephen Hock’s Huckleberry Finn was charismatic. He had great natural instincts for comedic timing and a beautiful tenor. Kevin Wiggins’ Jim was an excellent counterpart with his beautiful gospel-style vocals and heartfelt simplicity in his character. An absolutely show-stealing performance was given by the amazing Giorgio Mazzarelli as The King. He played an over-the-top character was subtle nuance and finesse. Also, very good was Lyle Blake Smythers as The Duke. Together, the duo made a pair of very entertaining bad guys. As Tom Sawyer and Mary Jane Wilkes, Casey Fero and Dani Stoller respectively gave strong performances and vocals as well.

Overall, these standout performances by the leading actors made the production a definite success. Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre did a good job of putting on an overall entertaining production of a great show.

Cast of Characters:

  • Mark Twain: Jeffrey Bryce Davidson
  • Huckleberry Finn: Stephen Hock
  • Widow Douglas: Cathy Kidwell
  • Miss Watson: Amy Wolf
  • Jim: Kevin Wiggins
  • Tom Sawyer: Casey Fero
  • Ben Rodgers: Anthony Williams
  • Jo Harper: Ian David Neville
  • Simon: Michael Shields
  • Dick: Daniel Reip
  • Pap Finn: Hans Bachmann/Eric Trumbull
  • Judge Thatcher: James Howard
  • Strange Woman: Amy Wolf
  • The King: Giorgio Mazzarelli
  • The Duke: Lyle Blake Smythers
  • Hank: Daniel Reip
  • Andi: Amanda Spellman
  • Lafe: Ian David Neville
  • A Young Fool: Ian David Neville
  • Mary Jane Wilkes: Dani Stoller
  • Susan Wilkes: Amy Wolf
  • Joanna Wilkes: Amanda Spellman
  • Counselor Robinson: Jeffrey Bryce Davidson
  • Alice, the Wilkes’ Slave: Diane Pollock
  • Alice’s Son: Michael Shields
  • Sheriff Bell: Daniel Reip
  • Harvey Wilkes: James Howard
  • Sally Phelps: Cathy Kidwell
  • Silas Phelps: James Howard
  • Doctor: Jeffrey Bryce Davidson
  • Hired Hands: Ian David Neville, Daniel Reip
  • Male Swing: Aaron Richardson, Christopher Shaw
  • Female Swing: Ann Davis, Mira Demirkan

Production Staff

  • Produced by Harold E. Gates & Glenn D. Gates
  • Director: Jeffrey Davis
  • Stage Manager: George Rouse
  • Choreographer: Kathleen McCormack
  • Lighting Designer: Jeanne Forbes
  • Musical Director: Rosie Dyer
  • Costumers: Jennifer M. Pelath & Reggie M. Eusebio
  • Set Construction: Eric Redmond, Philip Viar
  • Scenic Painting/Set Dressing: Karol Kaldenbach, Linda Shaw
  • Technical Staff: Aaron Forbes, Jeanne Forbes, Jesse Forbes, Gregory Lee

Disclaimer: Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musical for use in church.

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