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Alex Goley Stars in TheatreWorks' BIG RIVER in Palo Alto, Now thru 12/30


TheatreWorks, the nationally acclaimed theatre of Silicon Valley, presents a family treat for the holidays, the Tony Award-winning musical BIG RIVER. Hilarious and heartwarming, Mark Twain’s story The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn comes alive in this enchanting musical adaptation. In this joyously tuneful journey, runaways Huck and Jim sweep down the mighty Mississippi, discovering a friendship that defies convention and defines the American dream. Propelled by an infectious, award-winning score by Country Music Hall of Fame’s Roger Miller (“King of the Road”), and a wondrous script that won William Hauptman a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical, this uproarious tale chronicles our heritage in a buoyant and unforgettable journey.

Helmed by TheatreWorks Founding Artistic Director Robert Kelley, BIG RIVER plays tonight, November 28-December 30, 2012 (press opening December 1) at TheatreWorks at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto. For tickets ($23-$73) and information the public may call (650) 463-1960 or visit Note: Contains occasional mature period language.

Set along the Mississippi River Valley in the late 1840s, BIG RIVER weaves adventure and a playful score into the quest of two friends to gain their freedom. Though trying to be “respectable,” Huckleberry Finn runs into trouble when his father, Pap, returns to town. Huck fakes his own death to escape and joins up with Jim, a runaway slave determined to reach the North and buy his family’s freedom. The two friends set off down the river, dodging slave hunters and tangling with scam artists The King and The Duke, eventually meeting mischievous Tom Sawyer just in time for their final big adventure. Told with Mark Twain’s signature wit and candor, BIG RIVER is a tale of friendship, sacrifice, and hope, revisiting some of the best moments in American history.

Mark Twain (1835-1910), born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, is perhaps the most iconic writer and humorist in American literature. Known for his sharp wit, lovable characters, and stirring social commentary on class relations and civil rights, Twain’s enduring works include The Prince and the Pauper, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

TheatreWorks has assembled a stellar cast for this heartwarming holiday show, including several Broadway stars, as well as TheatreWorks favorites. Alex Goley, who makes his TheatreWorks debut as “Huckleberry Finn,” has appeared in regional productions of Big River (Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre), Sweeney Todd (NYU/Playwrights Horizons), and Footloose (Theatre Matthews). He is joined by Broadway actor and TheatreWorks veteran James Monroe Iglehart as “Jim.” Iglehart starred in TheatreWorks’ world premiere of Memphis and continued with that show through its recently completed three-year Broadway run. His credits include Into the Woods (as “The Wolf”) and It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues at TheatreWorks, and Disney Theatrical’s Aladdin (as “The Genie”) at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. Sharing the stage will be TheatreWorks newcomer Scott Reardon (“Tom Sawyer”), who has played roles at Fresno Grand Opera, Cabrillo Music Theatre, and Utah Shakespearean Festival; Lucinda Hitchcock Cone (“Widow Douglas”) seen in the national tour of Big River, at TheatreWorks in Ragtime, Cabaret, and The Clean House, and in productions at Lincoln Center Institute, Marin Theater Company, American Conservatory Theater, 42nd Street Moon, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre, among others; and Alison Ewing (“Miss Watson”) seen on Broadway in Cabaret and in the North American Broadway Tour of Mamma Mia!, and in TheatreWorks Productions including Emma, Into the Woods, It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, and Harold & Maude The Musical.

BIG RIVER also features Matt Henerson (“Pap Finn”), seen on film in Disney’s Mars Needs Moms and A Christmas Carol, on TV In The Bernie Mac Show, and onstage at American Conservatory Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz; Martin Rojas Dietrich (“The King”) seen in Into the Woods at TheatreWorks, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at San Jose Stage Company, and Sweeney Todd at Coastal Repertory Theatre; Jackson Davis (“The Duke”) seen at TheatreWorks in 33 Variations, The Pitmen Painters, Opus, Living Out, Be Aggressive, Theophilus North, and Into the Woods, as well as at American Conservatory Theater, San Jose Repertory Theatre, SF Playhouse, Aurora Theatre Company, and other leading companies; and Jesse Caldwell (“Judge Thatcher”) seen around the Bay Area in Caroline, or Change and Fly by Night TheatreWorks, and in shows at Center Repertory Theatre, Willows Theatre Company, and Shotgun Players. Other cast members include Matt Provencal, Cyril JamAl Cooper, Katie Jane Martin, Breena Wahl, Dawn L. Troupe, and Tracy Camp.

Roger Miller (Music, Lyrics), best known for his 1960s hits “King of the Road,” “Dang Me,” and “England Swings,” won two Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lyrics and a Tony Award for Best Score for his work on Big River, making him the only country artist to ever win a Tony. He also took on the role of “Pap” for three months during Big River’s Broadway run, taking the place of John Goodman who originated the role. Miller (1936-1992) won 11 Grammy Awards in his lifetime, and in 1995 was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

William Hauptman (Book) made his Broadway debut in 1985 as the writer of Big River, for which he won a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical, a Boston Theatre Critics Circle Award for Best New Musical, and a San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award for Best New Play. His other plays include Domino Courts/Comanche Café (Obie Award), Gillette (LA Drama-Logue Award), Heat, and Durango Flash. Hauptman also wrote extensively for the screen, and received an Emmy Award nomination and NAACP Freedom Foundation Award for his 1981 PBS teleplay Denmark Vesey.

TheatreWorks Founding Artistic Director Robert Kelley directs BIG RIVER. Kelley was honored as the Legacy Laureate of the 2012 Artist Laureate Awards by the Arts Council of Silicon Valley for his lifetime of artistic achievement. Kelley has also received the Bay Area Theater Critics Circle (BATCC) Paine Knickerbocker Award for lifetime achievement as well as BATCC Awards for directing TheatreWorks’ productions of Caroline, or Change; Ragtime; Rags; Another Midsummer Night; the West Coast Premiere of Jane Eyre; and the Sondheim classics Sunday in the Park with George; Pacific Overtures; Into the Woods; and Sweeney Todd. Additionally, he is the recipient of Bay Area Drama-Logue Awards for his direction of Pacific Overtures, Ah, Wilderness!, and Once in a Lifetime; and Back Stage West Garland Awards for his direction of Side Show and Sunday in the Park with George. Since founding TheatreWorks in 1970, Kelley has directed over 150 productions for the company.

The TheatreWorks production of BIG RIVER includes musical direction by William Liberatore, scenic design by Joe Ragey, costume design by B Modern, lighting design by Pamila Z. Gray, and sound design by Jeff Mockus.

With some 100,000 patrons per year, TheatreWorks has captured a national reputation for artistic innovation and integrity, often presenting Bay Area theatregoers with their first look at acclaimed musicals, comedies, and dramas, directed by award-winning local and guest directors, and performed by professional actors cast locally and from across the country. A home for artists developing new works, it was at TheatreWorks that Memphis, the 2010 Tony Award-winning musical that is making its London premiere and returning to the Bay Area on its national tour this fall, was first workshopped and received its world premiere.

Pictured: Alex Goley. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.

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