Grosse Pointe Theatre presents Big River, Opens Jan. 20

A rousing musical tale of Huckleberry Finn and friends on the mighty Mississippi with a cast and crew from far reaches of Metro Detroit.


Grosse Pointe Theatre announces the third play in its 65th Anniversary Season, the rousing musical, Big River, which opens on Sunday, Jan. 20.

In this rousing musical, taken from Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the audience is swept down the mighty Mississippi with the irrepressible Huck Finn, who helps his friend Jim, a slave, escape to freedom at the mouth of the Ohio River.

Their adventures along the way are hilarious, suspenseful and heart-warming, bringing to life favorite characters from the novel: the Widow Douglas and her stern sister, Miss Watson; the uproarious King and Duke (who may or may not be as harmless as they seem); Huck's partner in crime, Tom Sawyer, and their rowdy gang of pals; Huck's drunken father, the sinister Pap Finn; the lovely Mary Jane Wilkes and her trusting family.

This lively journey provides a brilliant theatrical celebration of pure Americana, featuring bluegrass and country-style music in keeping with the setting of Twain’s timeless, classic tale. The award-winning score and lyrics were composed by country music great, Roger Miller, and the show’s book, adapted from the novel, was written by William Hauptman.

Grosse Pointe Theatre has gathered a cast and crew from the far reaches of Metro Detroit to bring this adventure to life, and it’s a “family affair production.”

The cast includes Grant Hale of Washington Twp.; Leon Anderson Jr. of Fraser, Dennis Martell of Livonia (whose wife, Deborah, is co-producing the show); Kevin Fitzhenry of Warren; Jeremy Harr, Laura Bartell (son and mother in the cast) with dad, Stan Harr (music/vocal director) of Grosse Pointe Shores; Jarod Clark (with mom, Jennifer, assistant director) of Royal Oak; Chantelle Adkins of Romeo; Bridget Healey of Roseville; Eddie Tujaka and daughter, Jessica, and  William Giovan of Grosse Pointe Farms; Madison Collier of Grosse Pointe Park; Kate and Bev Dickinson (daughter and mother) of Pleasant Ridge; Nicolas Doyle of Grosse Pointe Woods; Christopher Curtis of Eastpointe; Steven and Stevie-Joi Clark (father and daughter) of St. Clair Shores; and Ana Christinidis, Kate Connolly, Robert Mullinger, and Emmajean Evans of Grosse Pointe. Jacqueline DiSante of Grosse Pointe is on stage, while her sister, Marisa of St. Clair Shores is co-stage manager.

The show is directed by Kathleen Lietz of Royal Oak. The crew (besides those mentioned above, includes: Laurane Walker (assistant director) andRandi Bartecki-Hamilton (dance captain) of Ferndale; Mary Stelmark (co-producer) of Grosse Pointe Farms; Jim Arnold (technical director) and wife, Gayle (properties/set dressing)) of Grosse Pointe Woods. Co-stage manager Janie Burkey of Grosse Pointe Woods, will be helped by daughter, Stacie Longo.

Also on the crew are Mary Lou Britton (costumes) of St. Clair Shores; Carolyn Darby (properties/set dressing) of Detroit; Lucy Meyo (lighting) of Milford; Bill Tuthill of Grosse Pointe Woods and David Hertzberg of Royal Oak (sound); Jeanne Chrisman (makeup) of Harper Woods, with daughter, Anna; John Luther (choreography)of Farmington.

Big River opens Jan. 20 with a 2 p.m. matinee at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, 32 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Farms. Continuing performances are January 24-26 at 8:00 p.m., Sunday, January 27 at 2:00 p.m. and January 31, February 1 & 2 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $24. Group rates are available. For tickets and information call 313-881-4004 or order online at www.gpt.org (Seat Yourself).

Upcoming Grosse Pointe Theatre productions include:

  •  Doubt by John Patrick Shanley, GPT’s Purdon Studio Theatre production at the Edsel & EleanorFord House Visitor Center, February 21-24, February 28 & March 1-3, 2013.
  • The Heiress by Ruth and Augustus Goetz (adapted from the 1880 Henry James novel, Washington Square), March 10, 14-17, 21-23, 2013, at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial
  • The Drowsy Chaperone, book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, May 5, 9-12, 16-18, 2013, at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial

Grosse Pointe Theatre is a community theatre whose purpose is to engage and enrich the community by continuing a tradition of exceptional theatrical experiences. GPT is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization. Membership in Grosse Pointe Theatre is open to adults age 18 and over who are interested in theater and theater craft. For more information, see the website at www.gpt.org, or call 313-881-4004.


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