Goodspeed Musicals Presents 'Big River' Starting 9/26

Goodspeed Musicals, the only two time Tony Award winning theatre in the country, announces the cast of Big River, a spirited musical adventure like no other. Big River  will begin September 26 and run through November 30, 2008 at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut. Big River is sponsored by Bank of America and Connecticut Light & Power / Yankee Gas.

Come along for the adventure of a lifetime! Join Huck Finn and runaway slave Jim on a musical trip down the Mississippi River in Mark Twain's classic tale. Along the way you'll meet a rascally pair of river grifters, a grieving heiress, and of course, Tom Sawyer. A slice of pure Americana - adventurous, humorous, perilous and mythic. Big River, adapted from the novel "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain, draws from an ecclectic collection of musical styles including Cajun, gospel, blues and country. The Broadway production garnered seven Tony Awards including Best Musical.

Making his Goodspeed Musicals debut is Will Reynolds who will be playing the unforgettable Huck Finn. Most recently, Mr. Reynolds appeared as Curly in Oklahoma! at Chicago's Light Opera Works. Other credits include the North American tour of Mamma Mia!, and a role in the feature film "The Good Shepherd." Will is a graduate of the drama school at Carnegie Mellon University.  Russell Joel Brown, who has enjoyed touring the globe in Smokey Joe's Café (1st National and Japanese Tours), The Scarlet Pimpernel, Disney's The Lion King, and Ain't Misbehavin', will play Jim.  The Duke will be played by John Bolton whose Broadway credits include Grady, the villainous critic, in Curtains; King Arthur in Spamalot; Michael Wiley in Contact; Charles Lightoller in Titanic; Finch and Frump in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying; and Ozzie in Damn Yankees.  The King will be played by Ed Dixon. Goodspeed Musicals audiences will remember Mr. Dixon for his performance as the Major General in Pirates of Penzance, his role  as Boris in Can-Can, and as Galileo Galilei in The Norma Terris Theatre production of Starcrossed.  Mr. Dixon's Broadway credits include Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!; Sunday in the Park with George, The Best Man; The Iceman Cometh; Les Miserables; The Scarlet Pimpernel; The Three Musketeers ; On a Clear Day You Can See Forever; King of Schonorrers; Knickerbocker Holiday; and No, No,Nanette.

Members of the ensemble are Kenneth Cavett (Pap), who was last seen as Col. Thomas McKean in Goodspeed's 1776; Steve French; Robin Haynes, and Nancy Johnston (Miss Watson), who returns to Goodspeed Musicals where she previously performed in George M!. Her Broadway credits include The Secret Garden, The Music Man, and the 1st National Tour of The Producers. Jeremy Jordan will play Tom Sawyer. Jill Kerley returns to Goodspeed Musicals where she participated in the 2008 Festival Of New Artists showcase. Also joining the ensemble are Daniel Kwiatkowski and David Lutken. Mr. Lutken appeared in Honky-Tonk Highway at The Norma Terris Theatre and in the Goodspeed Opera House production of Finian's Rainbow. His Broadway credits include Inherit the Wind (2007), Ring of Fire, The Civil War, and The Will Rogers Follies. The ensemble also includes Christine Lyons, who most recently performed in The Marriage of Figaro at Lincoln Center; Danny Marr; Mary Jo McConnell (Widow Douglas), who last performed on the Opera House stage in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and in the National tours of All Shook Up, Beauty and the Beast, and The Phantom of the OperaMarissa McGowan, who performed the roles of Eponine and Cosette in the Broadway production of Les Misérables, will play Mary Jane. A'Lisa D. Miles; Ty Robinson; and Adam Shonkwiler who returns to Goodspeed having previously performed in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, round out the ensemble. The swings will be Barbara Brown, Kanova Latrice Johnson, and Rob Morrison.

Big River will be directed by Rob Ruggiero, whose work has been seen in award-winning regional theatres around the country. Mr. Ruggiero returns to Goodspeed where he directed last season's gem 1776. His off-Broadway and tour credits include All Under Heaven and the world premieres of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Ella, and Make Me A Song, all of which he both conceived and directed. Choreographer John MacInnis is an established director/choreographer. From 1998 to 2001, he directed and choreographed the Radio City "Christmas Spectacular" starring The Rockettes. As a performer, his Broadway credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie; Kiss Me, Kate; Steel Pier; How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Guys and Dolls, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, and Me and My Girl. Mr. MacInnis choreographed the Opening for the Awards Ceremonies for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.  Returning to Goodspeed Musicals is the design team from last season's production of 1776. Scenic designs will be by Michael Schweikardt, whose designs have been seen off-Broadway in Golden Boy, Waiting for Lefty, and The Seagull, among others.  Costumes will be designed by Alejo Vietti, who designed the 2006 production of Meet John Doe at the Norma Terris Theatre, as well as Broadway's Mary Poppins and The Apple Tree (ENCORES). Lighting design will be by John Lasiter, who designed the Broadway production of A Grand Night for Singing  and the off-Broadway productions of The Seagull, Common Vision, and Make Me A Song.

The Music Director for Big River is Michael O'Flaherty. He is in his 17th season as Goodspeed's Resident Music Director.  William J. Thomas is assistant music director. Orchestrations will be provided by Dan DeLange, who provided the orchestrations for Goodspeed Musicals' Half a Sixpence, High Button Shoes, Singin' in the Rain, The Boy Friend, Red Hot and Blue, Call Me Madam, and Babes in Arms.   Big River is produced for Goodspeed Musicals by Michael P. Price.

Big River  will run September 26 through November 30, 2008 [Official Press Opening October 22, 2008]. Curtain times are Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (with select performances at 2:00 p.m.), Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. (with select performances at 6:30 p.m.).Tickets are on sale now through the Goodspeed Box Office at  860.873.8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org. 

Dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theatre, Goodspeed Musicals produces three musicals each season at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn., and additional musicals at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn., which was opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals. The only regional theatre to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement), Goodspeed also maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in the Musical Theater. Goodspeed gratefully acknowledges the support of American Airlines, the official airline of Goodspeed Musicals; production sponsors Bank of America and Connecticut Light & Power / Yankee Gas; and additional support from Blum Shapiro; Hoffman Lexus; Mohegan Sun; Henkel Adhesives Technologies; Updike, Kelly & Spellacy P.C.; the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism; and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information and to purchase tickets please visit www.goodspeed.org

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