One of the most famous characters in American literature is Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. Daring and mischievous, Huck is the archetype of an incorrigible boy. His many exciting adventures and episodes of trouble are chronicled in the 1985 Tony-winning musical Big River.
The story begins in St. Petersburg, Mo., and unfolds along the Mississippi River. Huck escapes his crazed, alcoholic father and stumbles upon Jim, a runaway slave. Together, they venture down the river in search of freedom.
FOR THE RECORD - Because of a photo-editing error, the names were reversed in the caption of a photo of the Glenelg Country School production of Big River in Friday's Howard section. Nick Lehman played Jim, and Jay Frisby played Huckleberry Finn.
The Sun regrets the error.
Twists and turns of fate introduce the pair to a host of interesting characters while changing the course of their journey. Amid the maelstrom of events, Huck learns a lot about himself, his community and the human race.
Glenelg Country School's recent performance of Big River was lively, creative and full of heart. Jay Frisby gave an exceptional performance as Huck. His stage presence, strong voice and versatile acting skills shone in the multifaceted role. Frisby's energetic performance of Huck's declaration of independence, "I, Huckleberry, Me," was a compelling show-stopper.
Nick Lehan offered a scintillating interpretation of Jim, a complex character. Lehan took control of the role, easily capturing Jim's reserved, yet forceful demeanor and showcasing his vocal talent. The duets between Frisby and Lehan, including the moving "Muddy Water," were highlights of the production.
Other standout performances included Chris Lehan as the fun-loving Tom Sawyer, with an irrepressible zeal for life, and Shreyo Banerjee's chilling portrayal of Huck's slovenly, violent father.
With a vibrant performance, the student orchestra brought the audience into life on the river. The additional banjo and guitar arrangements by Keith Adams enhanced the score and further established the setting of this period piece.
The creative choreography by Alison Murphy and Taylor Poling was diverse, amusing and a pleasure to watch.
In Big River, the cast and crew of Glenelg Country combined acting, singing, dancing and musicianship to transport the audience back to the American frontier of the 1840s. From the adventure along the muddy Mississippi, friendship, love and determination transcend the odds to make people who are, as the songs say, "Worlds Apart" discover the joys of being "Free at Last."
Chantal Hall, a senior at Long Reach High School, reviewed "Big River" for the Cappies of Baltimore, a program in which students review high school productions under the direction of their teachers and vote on awards for outstanding performances.