Rubicon Opens 22nd Season With Immersive BIG RIVER: THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN

By: Oct. 16, 2019

Rubicon Opens 22nd Season With Immersive BIG RIVER: THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN

Rubicon Theatre opens the company's 22nd Season with an environmental production of the musical Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, opening October 26 at 7pm and continuing through November 10, 2019. Directed by Kirby Ward, with a company of 23, the production runs Wednesdays through Sundays in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District at the company's home at 1006 E. Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001.

Winner of seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score, Big River is a rollicking river adventure based on Mark Twain's timeless 1884 novel. In the story, the irrepressible, rebellious young Huck resists polite society and takes off on a raft with Jim, a runaway slave. On their journey, Huck and Jim encounter wild extremes of greed, bigotry, kindness and love. Twain's many memorable characters are brought to vivid life - from the Widow Douglas and her stern sister to two uproariously funny con men; from Huck's partner in crime Tom Sawyer and their rowdy gang of pals to the lovely Mary Jane Wilkes and her trusting family.

Propelled by a soul-stirring score of country, pop, gospel and bluegrass music created by Roger Miller ("King of the Road"), Big River is a theatrical celebration of pure Americana and a powerful and timely coming of age story.

Rubicon's Big River is the fulfillment of a long-held dream for husband-and-wife team Kirby and Beverly Ward, both Broadway and West-End veterans. This production marks their third journey on the river. (They serve as Director/Choreographer and Associate Producer/Associate Director, respectively.) Kirby and Beverly have envisioned an environmental revival of the show with ensemble members who sing, play multiple characters and also play instruments. Their vision was to revisit Twain's timely tale with an integrated group of storytellers who have a sense of urgency because of the show's relevance to the present time.

Says Rubicon Producing Artistic Director Karyl Lynn Burns, "Kirby and Bev have assembled a glorious group of talents. The show will be raucous and charming and full of music and dance and laughter, while also packing a powerful dramatic punch, bringing home the fact that prejudice is still a pervasive problem in our country more than 135 years after the novel was first published."

"The play addresses issues related to social justice," continues Burns, "and is a call to each individual to act according to their conscience. (The season is entitled 'True North' and many of the shows will echo this theme through the season.)"

The cast for Rubicon's production stars David Aron Damane as Jim and Josey Montana McCoy as Huck.

Demane's Broadway credits include The Book of Mormon, Don't Dress for Dinner, The Life, Riverdance, Porgy & Bess, and Big River. He appeared in the National Tours of The Book of Mormon, The Color Purple, Riverdance and Big River, as well as The Who's Tommy. Among his New York-area theatrical appearances are Carmen Jones directed by John Doyle (Classic Stage Company), Dinah Was, A Christmas Carol (Theatre at Madison Square Garden), Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night's Dream (New York Renaissance Festival), Living in the Wind (American Place Theatre), and Big River (Paper Mill Playhouse). Regional theatre highlights include Macbeth (Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Ontario), Showboat (Goodspeed Opera House), To Kill a Mockingbird (Ford's Theatre), Big River (PlayMakers Repertory Company), and Where's Charley? (Kennedy Center), amongst many others. He has also graced the concert stage, having performed at Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall. Television and film appearances include his current role as Eddie McKay on Cinemax's "Jett," guest-starring roles as Maurice Owens on "Chicago PD" and "Chicago Fire," "Law & Order SVU," and others. Demane trained at Yale School of Drama, University of Miami, Stella Adler Conservatory, and HB Studios.

McCoy's National Tour credits include Ragtime, A Christmas Carol and Magic Tree House. He's performed across L.A. in La Mirada's Newsies (Davey) and Floyd Collins (Skeets Miller - Ovation and LADCC nominee - Best Featured Actor), ICT's Life Could Be a Dream (Denny), Garry Marshall Theatre's Root Beer Bandits (Zeke), L.A. New Court Theatre's Fools and the World Premiere of Atlas Pit, Bronies! and The Pokémusical. McCoy may be heard on several "Monster High" and "Ever After High" titles on Netflix.

Others in the company include: Teri Bibb (Phantom on Broadway/Carbonell Award), Larry Cedar ("Deadwood"/100+ guest star appearances), Sara Freedland (Tennessee Williams' Festival), Rubicon company member Joseph Fuqua (Broadway/Arena Stage/Actors Theatre of Louisville), Simi Valley native Cheyenne Green (AMDA graduate/"This is Us"), Summer Greer (Sister Act/Parade), Richard Hebert (The Last Ship and multiple Broadway show and National Tours), Nick McKenna (UCLA Musical Theatre grad/McCoy Rigby/Hollywood Bowl), Carter Michael (Yale grad/Parade/Next to Normal), Mike Nappi (Roundabout/Paper Mill), Cassidy Stirtz (Once/Lonesome Traveler Tour), Clarinda Ross (Nibroc Trilogy at Rubicon), Brandon Ruiter (The House Theatre/Geffen), Joshua Valerione (California Adventure Park/The Wayward Theatre Co.), and Ventura native Emma Vielbig (B.F.A. Syracuse/The Bachelor Girls in NY); with Renn Woods as Alice (Sunday's Child/the film of "Hair" singing "Aquarius"/"Forrest Gump").

Musical direction is by Ovation and L.A. Drama Critics' Circle Award-winner and Broadway veteran Abdul Hamid Royal, who also plays piano and conducts the production.

Set, Projection and Lighting Designer Mike Billings (South Pacific/Incognito at Rubicon), who is currently designing The Prince of Egypt in London, has worked with Director Ward to create an environmental set.

Large docks come out into the house on either side, and the raft protrudes into what were formerly the front rows of Rubicon's home. The central playing space is quickly transformed by projections and set dressing, which is moved by the actor/storytellers. Some audience members will be seated on stage and should be aware that they will be visible to the majority of the audience and may even become a part of the action. (Up to 20 onstage seats per night are available onstage at $20 for students 20 years old and younger with code "twenty".

The creative team also includes Abra Pilar Flores (costume design), Jonathan Burke (sound design), and T. Theresa Scarano (set dressing, props and furniture).

The book for Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is written by William Hauptman based on the Mark Twain classic novel, with music and lyrics by Roger Miller.

Stephanie Coltrin is Producer, the Production Stage Manager is Sara Sahlin, and Dillon Francis serves as Assistant Stage Manager.

Big River is sponsored in part by Stacey and John Birchfield, Anonymous, Barbara Meister and Jordan Laby. In addition to the above, Rubicon's True North Season Sponsors also include BBA, Blue Touch Productions, Janet and Mark L. Goldenson, and Sue and Simon Ruddick.

Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn opens on Saturday, October 26, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. at Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main Street in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District, with low-priced previews Wednesday, October 23 at 7 p.m., Thursday, October 24 at 7:00 p.m., Friday, October 25 at 8 p.m., and Saturday, October 26 at 2:00 p.m. The production continues Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays and 2 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through November 10, 2019. Talkbacks are scheduled following the all Wednesday performances except the first preview. Regular ticket prices range from $34 to $74, with $20 onstage seats for students and other discounts for seniors and members of the military.

For tickets, go to or call (805) 667-2900.

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