|Robert Collins and Nicholas Gunnell|
photo by Nick Woodward-Shaw
Click here for more information on this production that runs through May 11.
"...While Big River has a few shortcomings due to its episodic nature, which, like the book, is a series of vignettes featuring larger than life characters, all strung together with narration, it still results in a heartwarming, funny, and ultimately moving experience....Tim Dietlein's direction ensures several of the dramatic moments resonate, especially those toward the end, and he also never lets his cast, who are all excellent, veer too much into broad humor or caricature...Nicholas Gunnell's lovely, clear singing voice and sense of humor, adventure, wonder, and down to earth sensibility instills Huck with the perfect level of wanderlust. ...Robert Collins is delivering one of the best portrayals of Jim I've seen... While Gunnell may play Huck somewhat more comedic than I've seen others do, the connection he and Collins have is strong, rich, and full of feeling..." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)
."...Writer William Hauptman’s adaptation of the Twain novel is surprisingly faithful, incorporating most of the episodes found in the book...With a running time that reaches almost three hours, including a fifteen-minute intermission, you start to feel the length in the second act where the tone darkens considerably when compared to the bouncy upbeat nature of the show’s first act.... The musical is a good one, but not a great one..." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)
". BIG RIVER is full of music styles that, while rooted all over the globe, were culled and mastered in America...Hale Centre Theatre's production, running through May 11th in Gilbert, AZ, is more confirmation that BIG RIVER is one of the Great American Musicals.....Robert Collins (as Jim) ...skillfully navigates Jim's many and different modes: comic buffoonery, true fear, bold defiance, and loving friendship. Nicholas Gunnel (as Huck) is an endearing performer....Yet, his Huck felt somewhat more optimistic and cheerful than the character Mr. Twain described in his book....BIG RIVER, especially Hale's current production, makes Mr. Twain's story accessible and compact without diminishing its message." - Timothy Shawver, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)