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 at Roundabout's American Airlines Theatre

Broadway production closed September 21, 2003. 

Deaf West Theatre Homepage

"Light to Shine" Big River Fan Site





Washington, DC-By popular demand, Ford's Theatre has extended the run of Deaf West Theatre's Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, through Saturday, June 4. Tickets for the additional 40 performances will go on sale to the general public on Sunday, April 10, through the Ford's Theatre Box Office and Ticketmaster. Deaf West's American Sign Language (ASL) adaptation of Mark Twain's classic, which features Tony nominee Michael McElroy and Gallaudet University student Christopher B. Corrigan, had been scheduled to close on May 1, 2005.

Jeff Calhoun, the Tony nominated visionary whiz who developed the original production at Deaf West in North Hollywood, directs and choreographs. Music and lyrics are by Roger Miller, with book by William Hauptman (adapted from the novel by Mark Twain).

This innovative co-production with Ford's Theatre, Deaf West Theatre and Atlanta's Theatre of the Stars includes deaf, hard of hearing and hearing actors in a synchronized performance that utilizes spoken English, American Sign Language (ASL), gestures, dance and song. Those elements, paired with storytelling techniques from deaf and hearing cultures, form a "third language" that creates a groundbreaking theatrical experience.

The show is produced by Atlanta's Theatre of the Stars and Deaf West Theatre, in association with Ford's Theatre, Dallas Summer Musicals, Houston's Theater Under the Stars, Boston's Wang Center for the Performing Arts, in association with the Center Theater Group, Roundabout Theater Company and Jeff Calhoun.

Ford's production of Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is made possible by the generous support of Nortel, Raytheon and ExxonMobil.

Ford's Theatre Society Ford's Theatre Society is a not-for-profit corporation created to produce live entertainment on Ford's historic stage. Paul R. Tetreault is Producing Director. In tribute to President Abraham Lincoln's love of the performing arts, Ford's Theatre produces plays and musicals that underscore the character and eclectic culture of American life. Now in its thirty-seventh season, Ford's has produced more than two-dozen world premieres as well as productions of Elmer Gantry; Inherit the Wind; Eleanor: An American Love Story; To Kill a Mockingbird; The Grapes of Wrath and 1776. Performance Schedule Running: March 18 - June 4, 2005

Tues.- Sat, 7:30 p.m. Sun., 2:30 p.m. , March 27-May 29
Sat., 2:30 p.m., March 26-April 16; May 21-June 4
Wed. & Thurs., 12:00 p.m., April 7, 13; 20, 21, 27, 28; May 4, 5, 11, 12, 19, 26; June 1, 2

For more information on Ford's Theatre, please call (202) 347-4833 or visit

Single Ticket prices: $­­25-$48. (Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more.)
Ticketmaster.com: 1-800 551-SEAT
Box Office: 202 347-4833 or in person
Group Sales: 202 638-2367
TTY: 202 347-5599
Most Olsson's Books & Records

Gift certificates in any denomination may be purchased at the Ford's Theatre Box Office or by calling 202-347-4833.



National Tour of the critically acclaimed

Deaf West Theatre production of
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Kicks off a 12 month tour in San Francisco’s Curran Theater

Jeff Calhoun returns to direct tour starring
Tyrone Giordano, Daniel Jenkins, and Michael McElroy

Performances Begin June 11

Atlanta, GA – Atlanta’s Theater of the Stars, in association with Dallas Summer Musicals, Houston’s Theater of the Stars, and Boston’s Wang Center for the Performing Arts, is delighted to announce the mounting of a touring production of the Deaf West Theatre production of BIG RIVER, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, music and lyrics by Roger Miller, Book by William Hauptman, adapted from the novel by Mark Twain. This exciting new production, which was co-developed by Deaf West Theatre and Jeff Calhoun, won rave reviews during its extended run on Broadway during the summer/fall of 2003 following its critically acclaimed engagement at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Calhoun will recreate his direction and choreography and Tyrone Giordano, Daniel Jenkins, and Michael McElroy return to play the leading roles that each originated in the recent Broadway production.

Five weeks of performances will begin June 11th in San Francisco’s Curran Theater. Subsequent bookings in Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta proceed the show’s Asian premiere in Tokyo’s Aoyama Theater this fall. The tour is currently booked through June 2005, including engagements in Green Bay, Boston, Philadelphia, Tucson, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Columbus, Wilmington, New Haven, Hershey and an extended run in Washington, DC.

The Deaf West Theatre Production of BIG RIVER, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn includes deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing actors in a synchronized performance utilizing speaking, signing, gesture, song and dance. Spoken English and American Sign Language (ASL) are interwoven with music, dance, and storytelling techniques from both hearing and deaf cultures into a “third language” creating a unique and groundbreaking theatrical experience.

The award winning production, comprised of a cast of both hearing and deaf performers, was originally developed at Deaf West Theater in North Hollywood in the fall of 2001. After winning numerous awards, it transferred and was further developed during its first full Equity contract at the Mark Taper Forum in 2002. Subsequently, BIG RIVER played on Broadway in the 2003-04 season at the Roundabout Theatre Company in a co-production between Deaf West and Roundabout in association with the Mark Taper Forum.

The original production of BIG RIVER opened on Broadway on April 25, 1985 at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre and was the winner of seven TONY awards including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score. Musical numbers include, “Do You Wanna Go To Heaven?” “Waiting for the Light to Shine,” “Muddy Water,” “When the Sun Goes Down in the South,” “You Oughta Be Here With Me” and “Worlds Apart.”

The show is based on one of the greatest creations in American Fiction, Mark Twain’s classic “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” This tale of adventure and self-discovery begins on a raft on the Mississippi River in the 1840’s, where Huck, escaping from his drunken father, meets up with Jim, a runaway slave. The story of their journey downstream is an American classic that captures the rhythms, sounds and spirits of life on the big river.

The production will enlist the same principle creative team that had been assembled for the Broadway production, including helmer Jeff Calhoun. Tyrone Giordano, Daniel Jenkins, and Michael McElroy will recreate the roles of Huck, Mark Twain, and Jim respectively. Calhoun indicated that he is looking forward to continuing his work on the production, stating: “I’m delighted that I will be able to continue working on a project that has been one of the most artistically gratifying experiences of my life. I’m also excited for other cities and countries to experience a world that they can hear with their eyes.”

During its initial staging at Deaf West, the production won six Theatre L.A. Ovation Awards, five Los Angeles, Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, and five Back Stage West Garland Awards – including “Best Musical” nods from each.



This is an amazing production of Mark Twain's story of Huck Finn, told in English and American Sign Language.  It is a limited run, due to end September 14, 2003 but I would hope that a production like this would transfer and continue.  It's that good.  Although it does not appear that a transfer is imminent, there is a tour planned.

Deaf and hearing actors perform side-by-side, hearing actors voicing for deaf actors.  The sign language is choreographed so beautifully, it adds to the very sweet story and music. 

This picture is from rehearsal.  Deaf actor Tyrone Giordano (left) plays Huck and his words are voiced by Daniel Jenkins, who plays the narrator, Mark Twain, and played Huck Finn in the original production of Big River in the mid-80's.  Michael McElroy (right) plays the slave, Jim.

Michael McElroy, Daniel Jenkins and Tyrone Giordano

All pictures courtesy of playbill.com.


Cast List: Big River: American Sign Language Adaptation at the American Airlines Theatre

Big River: American Sign Language Adaptation Multimedia

Playbill News: Deaf West's Big River Shines on Broadway as Roundabout Revival Opens, July 24

Broadway.com interview with Michael McElroy

Playbill News: scroll down for story about Michael McElroy

Deaf Today: Sign to Sing: New Broadway Big River Is Confluence of Deaf, Hearing and Musical Theatre

Deaf Today: Deaf West Theatre Takes Big River On The Road; North American Tour Set for Summer 2004

Playbill News: Broadway's Huck, Twain and Jim Join Calhoun for Big River Tour, Launching June 11 in CA



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