Pennington Players of New Jersey’s unique production based on 2003 Deaf West Staging of Huck Finn Musical Adaptation.
The Pennington Players will hold auditions for the musical “Big River,” Roger Miller and William Hauptman’s Tony Award-winning adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
This production will be based on the 2003 Broadway staging by the Roundabout Theatre Company and the American Deaf West Theatre, and will blend American Sign Language (ASL) with traditional choreography and staging, affording a unique opportunity for deaf and hearing actors to work in collaboration and providing accessibility to a wide range of audiences.
Roles are open for both deaf and hearing actors; the specific available roles and audition requirements are presented below. In total, we are seeking approximately 20 actors (as described below). Actors of all ethnicities are encouraged to audition.
Preliminary auditions for hearing actors will be held on Tuesday, June 25 (7:00 PM – 10:00 P.M) and Saturday, June 29 (1:30 P.M – 4:00 .PM).
Preliminary auditions for deaf actors will be held on Thursday, June 27 (7:00 P.M – 10:00 P.M) and Saturday, June 29 (11:00 A.M – 1:30 P.M). Callbacks for all roles will be held on Sunday, June 30 (time TBD).
Audition appointments are very strongly recommended for all actors; to make an audition appointment, e-mail us at: email@example.com. If you are interested in auditioning but unable to attend one of the scheduled audition date, please contact us with your availability and we will attempt to make alternate arrangements.
Big River will run for six performances at the Kelsey Theatre, on campus at Mercer County Community College (October 4-6 and 11-13, with Friday and Saturday performances at 8:00 P.M and Sunday performances at 2:00 P.M).
ROLES FOR HEARING ACTORS
Hearing actors are asked to prepare one complete song. Songs in the style of the show (traditional Broadway mixed with American folk/country; think of Roger Miller, because he wrote it) are helpful but not required. Songs from the show are fine. Please come prepared to dance. All hearing actors will be required to perform some amount of sign interpretation during the show; accordingly, auditioners will also be taught a small amount of sign as a part of the choreography audition.
Mark Twain (male, age around 30 years, tenor): As the narrator, Mark Twain will provide the speaking and singing voice for the principal role of Huck Finn, as well as for multiple other roles throughout the show. Need an excellent actor with a good sense of humor, a strong singing voice (and plenty of endurance), who can transition quickly and effectively among a number of very different characters. No dancing required for this role, but the ability to play guitar would be a plus.
Jim (male, age 30+, baritone): An escaped slave who becomes Huck’s best friend, Jim has spent his life restraining and hiding powerful emotions. Need an actor with good vocal range who is comfortable learning a large amount of ASL choreography as well. No dancing required for this role.
The Duke (male, age 35+, baritone): A traveling actor and grifter, he is petty, mean, and not particularly bright – but possesses a native cleverness and extraordinary gift for showmanship that keeps him mostly afloat. This actor will also provide the singing and speaking voice for Pap, Huck’s dangerously unhinged and alcoholic father.
Tom Sawyer (male, age 15-20, tenor): Huck’s boyhood friend, he is impulsive and believes himself to be a great rebel, though in reality he is a good deal more conventional than Huck. Need an energetic actor who moves well.
Mary Jane Wilkes (female, age 18-24, mezzo-soprano with strong medium belt): A young and innocent heiress, wide-eyed and good-hearted; in Huck’s eyes she represents everything that is good and worth protecting.
The Widow Douglas (female, age 40+, mezzo-soprano): Huck’s adopted caretaker, she is regular and decent in all her ways; she is kind enough but may possibly be going a bit mad as she ages.
Alice’s Daughter (female, age 20+, belter): A maid, mostly quiet and devoted to her mother. Sings two gospel-style solos.
Ensemble (male & female, ages 15+): In addition to the roles described above, we are seeking approximately four additional actors to play a number of smaller roles throughout the show, including members of Tom Sawyer’s gang, townsfolk, the singing/speaking voice for the King (see below), Sheriff Bell, Judge Thatcher, and others.
ROLES FOR DEAF ACTORS
Deaf actors are asked to prepare a short (2-3 minute) story (traditional folk stories, fairy tales, and fables are a good place to start), and to be prepared to present this in sign language. In addition, a brief choreography combination will be taught at the preliminary audition.
Huck Finn (male, reads 15-20 years of age): The hero of our story, Huck is earnest, eager, emotional, and stubborn. He is uneducated but not ignorant or disinterested; in fact, learning about the world around him is his greatest passion. Need an extremely expressive actor capable of covering a very wide range of emotion.
The King (male, 35+): A traveling con artist and grafter, he is a thoroughly disgusting specimen – unkempt, undignified, and none too bright. He is fairly adaptable, though, and can have moments of brilliance from time to time.
Pap (male, 50+): Huck’s father, Pap is a certified madman: ignorant, paranoid, and prone to fits of violence exacerbated by a nearly constant state of drunkenness.
Miss Watson (female, age 40+): Along with the Widow Douglas, Miss Watson helps care for Huck Finn in his adopted hometown of St. Petersburg. She is tall, reedy, and severe; she misplaced her sense of humor decades ago and has little interest in locating it now.
Ensemble (male & female, ages 15+): In addition to the roles described above, we are seeking approximately four additional actors to play a number of smaller roles throughout the show, including members of Tom Sawyer’s gang, townsfolk, an ASL stand-in for Mary Jane Wilkes (see above), Alice, and others.
This production of Big River is produced by the Pennington Players, a Mercer County-based community theatre organization with more than 60 years’ experience. The production team includes:
Jennifer Gregg (Producer)
Frank Ferrara (Director)
Shannon Ferrara (Musical Director)
Alison McMullen (Assistant Director)
Rachel Tovar (Choreographer)
Lynn Baskin (Associate Director and Principal ASL Coordinator).