The Fine Arts Department is abuzz now that the semester is underway, and it mostly has to do with the upcoming production of “Big River.”
For those unfamiliar, “Big River” is essentially a musical adaptation of the novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. It is a tale about a young boy in the early-to-mid 19th century as he meets and learns much about others and himself as he makes his way along the Mississippi River. It was a satire of southern antebellum society, and it provided an objective look at the stereotypes and attitudes of the times.
Tom Skore, UAA Theatre and Dance Department production director and chair, believes this musical may be more important than people think, especially with racism still being an issue in the country.
“To my mind one of the predominant themes is learning to see through your own eyes, and feel with your own heart,” Skore said. “Even today, almost 150 years later, though society has made strides to the issue of equality in race, gender, nationality, et cetera, the Treyvon Martin and George Zimmerman case shows us that wounds still remain, and thus the themes in ‘Huck Finn’ still resonate.”
Even though “Big River” premiered almost thirty years ago, this is still the first production of the musical in the Anchorage area. Skore is all too happy to bring the show to a new audience.
“It is always fun to introduce a piece heretofore unseen to the community,” Skore said. “Clearly we are going to need a lot of talent, and a diverse cast. … As always, UAA Theatre and Dance auditions are open to the entire community.”
Skore seeks diversity for the cast. The show will even feature a special guest, Torrie Allen, former artistic director of the Anchorage Opera, in the role of Jim, Huck’s friend of color throughout the journey. With these goals Skore hopes that the play will impact audiences on a very deep level.
“It should be remembered that ‘Huckleberry Finn’ is not without controversy,” Skore said. “It was clearly written to make us reflect upon ourselves — what is good about us — and what is not so good. We invite all interested to audition.”
Auditions will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Building Main Stage Theatre. Scripts are available for 24-hour checkout in Room 302 of the Fine Arts building, for which there is a refundable $10 fee. The show will premiere on Nov. 1. For more information, contact Tom Skore at 907-786-1740.