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Mighty Mississippi River beckons Twain's Huck Finn in 'Big River'

"Big River" comes to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts for two days, July 25 and 26.
Courtesy of Culture House

The “King of the Road,” Roger Miller meets the king of the river, Huckleberry Finn and friends when Culture House presents its multi Tony Award Winning summer production of “Big River” at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts for a limited, two day run, July 25 and 26.

After last year’s successful production of “Les Miserables” at Yardley Hall on the Johnson County Community College campus, a bigger venue was needed and nothing could be grander or better than the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, a spokesman for Culture House said.

Popular 1960s singer/songwriter, Roger Miller composed the music for "Big River." It was his only Broadway musical before his death at an early age.

“Produced by an amazingly talented and diverse cast of local professional musicians, vocalists and performers, this moving and incredible production will enlighten audiences with the beautiful gospel and bluegrass music by Roger Miller, as well as the heart-warming tale based on Mark Twain's classic 1884 novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The Broadway production, which swept the Tony’s in 1985, ran for over 1,000 performances and it remained one of the few very successful American musicals in the mid-1980s. The story follows Huckleberry Finn as he journeys down the river in an effort to help Jim, a slave, escape to freedom.

Cast for “Big River”: Huckleberry Finn, Jack Kapple; Jim, De’Markcus Howell; King, Arthur Clifford Sr.; Duke, Taylor Bottles; Pap Finn, Brent Sander; Tom Sawyer, Arthur Clifford Jr., Young Fool /men’s ensemble, Andy Massey; Mary Jane Wilkes, Shannon Buhler/women’s ensemble; Judge Thatcher & Rev. Wilkes /men’s ensemble, Pete Barrett; Widow Douglas/women’s ensemble, Trudy Hurley; Miss Watson/women’s ensemble, Jeannette Bonjour; Susan Wilkes/teen ensemble; Abby Peek; Joanna Wilkes/teen ensemble, Emma Walters; Alice/slave ensemble, Legna Cedillo; Alice's Daughter/slave ensemble, Joelle Kimbrough; Ben Rogers & Second Man/men’s ensemble, Caleb Tracy; Joe Harper/men’s ensemble, Nicholas Perry; Simon & Lafe (loafer)/teen ensemble, Yianni Perahoritis; Dick/teen ensemble, Brett Rawlings; Andy (loafer) & Hired Hand 1/teen ensemble, Torin Keena; Hank (loafer) & Sheriff Bell/men’s ensemble, Ken Koval; “Crossing” soloist/slave ensemble, Deiondre Teagle; Counselor Robinson/men’s ensemble, Forrest “Frosty” White; Strange Woman/women’s ensemble, Ginger Zemelman; Sally Phelps/women’s ensemble, Deborah Keys; Silas Phelps & First Man/men’s ensemble, Chuck Chambers; Mark Twain & Doc Robinson/men’s ensemble, John Van de Voort; Tart #1/teen ensemble, Allie Carroll; Tart #2/women’s ensemble, Katherine Ruprecht; Tart #3/women’s ensemble, Brianna Valente; Hired Hand 2/teen ensemble, Noah Loethen.

“The Crossing” Soloists: Jamie “J.Love” Chase with Kaleb Chase, Willie Dove, Dorothy Reedy-Schneider, Deiondre Teagle. Slave Ensemble: Rachel Alexander, Andrea Hobley, Josie Joseph, Anthony Nicholas, Amara Webb, Amaya Williams, Carolyn Young. Women’s & Men’s Ensemble: Betsy Morken, Susan Neu, Terry Nichols, Danielle Rawlings. Teen Ensemble: Cole Bellamy, Natalie Carrera, Maddie Charles, Josh De Voe, Kaitlin Duncan, Brin Eisele, Cortlyn Eisele, Faith Eisele, Laura Fotovich, Ava Hauser, Liz Hughes, Lauryn Hurley, Nicole Miller, Lauren Mulligan. Boys’ Ensemble: Connor Ampleman, Tyler Fowle, Joshua Walters. Girls’ Ensemble: Zoey Johnson, Natasha Moore, Elizabeth Phillips, Ana Rojas-Plumberg, Austyn Sander.

In an effort to make tickets accessible to everyone in the community, the ticket prices were kept very low for a Kauffman production. Tickets may be purchased for $10, $15 or $25 from the Kauffman Center Box Office at 816.994.7222 or by visiting Culture House’s website/ticketing.

The Culture House is one of the most unique training and performance venues in the Kansas City area. With theatre, dance, vocal and instrumental music, and visual arts all under one roof, it is an experience one cannot miss. Additionally, when you walk in the doors, you will find students from all over Kansas City and surrounding areas. With professional education and performance opportunities for ages 4 through adult, The Culture House is Kansas City’s premier performing arts academy.

For additional information, please call The Culture House at 913.393.3141 or visit us at www.culturehouse.com.

Cast for “Big River”: Huckleberry Finn, Jack Kapple; Jim, De’Markcus Howell; King, Arthur Clifford Sr.; Duke, Taylor Bottles; Pap Finn, Brent Sander; Tom Sawyer, Arthur Clifford Jr., Young Fool /men’s ensemble, Andy Massey; Mary Jane Wilkes, Shannon Buhler/women’s ensemble; Judge Thatcher & Rev. Wilkes /men’s ensemble, Pete Barrett; Widow Douglas/women’s ensemble, Trudy Hurley; Miss Watson/women’s ensemble, Jeannette Bonjour; Susan Wilkes/teen ensemble; Abby Peek; Joanna Wilkes/teen ensemble, Emma Walters; Alice/slave ensemble, Legna Cedillo; Alice's Daughter/slave ensemble, Joelle Kimbrough; Ben Rogers & Second Man/men’s ensemble, Caleb Tracy; Joe Harper/men’s ensemble, Nicholas Perry; Simon & Lafe (loafer)/teen ensemble, Yianni Perahoritis; Dick/teen ensemble, Brett Rawlings; Andy (loafer) & Hired Hand 1/teen ensemble, Torin Keena; Hank (loafer) & Sheriff Bell/men’s ensemble, Ken Koval; “Crossing” soloist/slave ensemble, Deiondre Teagle;
Counselor Robinson/men’s ensemble, Forrest “Frosty” White; Strange Woman/wome’s ensemble, Ginger Zemelman; Sally Phelps/women’s ensemble, Deborah Keys; Silas Phelps & First Man/men’s ensemble, Chuck Chambers; Mark Twain & Doc Robinson/men’s ensemble, John Van de Voort; Tart #1/teen ensemble, Allie Carroll; Tart #2/women’s ensemble, Katherine Ruprecht; Tart #3/women’s ensemble, Brianna Valente; Hired Hand 2/teen ensemble, Noah Loethen.

“The Crossing” Soloists: Jamie “J.Love” Chase with Kaleb Chase, Willie Dove, Dorothy Reedy-Schneider, Deiondre Teagle. Slave Ensemble: Rachel Alexander, Andrea Hobley, Josie Joseph, Anthony Nicholas, Amara Webb, Amaya Williams, Carolyn Young. Women’s & Men’s Ensemble: Betsy Morken, Susan Neu, Terry Nichols, Danielle Rawlings. Teen Ensemble: Cole Bellamy, Natalie Carrera, Maddie Charles, Josh De Voe, Kaitlin Duncan, Brin Eisele, Cortlyn Eisele, Faith Eisele, Laura Fotovich, Ava Hauser, Liz Hughes, Lauryn Hurley, Nicole Miller, Lauren Mulligan. Boys’ Ensemble: Connor Ampleman, Tyler Fowle, Joshua Walters. Girls’ Ensemble: Zoey Johnson, Natasha Moore, Elizabeth Phillips, Ana Rojas-Plumberg, Austyn Sander.