IM this article to a friend!

March 8, 2005

Gallaudet alumni take the stage for "Big River"

From: Gallaudet - Mar 8, 2005

February 24, 2005

Contact: Joyce M. Patterson

Gallaudet alumni take the stage for "Big River"

Production closes out Ford Theatre's 2004-2005 season

Washington, DC—Ford's Theatre ends its 2004 - 2005 season with the exciting Washington premiere of Deaf West Theatre's Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the American Sign Language (ASL) adaptation, running March 18 - May 1, 2005 (Press night: Wednesday, March 23, 7:30 p.m.) . Jeff Calhoun, the Tony nominated visionary whiz who developed the original production at Deaf West in North Hollywood, directs and choreographs. Music and lyrics are by Roger Miller, with book by William Hauptman (adapted from the novel by Mark Twain).

This innovative production includes deaf, hard of hearing and hearing actors in a synchronized performance that utilizes spoken English, American Sign Language (ASL), gestures, dance and song. Those elements, paired with storytelling techniques from deaf and hearing cultures, form a "third language" that creates a groundbreaking theatrical experience.

Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn won rave reviews during its extended run on Broadway in 2003-2004 following a critically acclaimed engagement at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Michael McElroy, who recreates the role of Jim at Ford's, received a Tony nomination for best featured actor in a musical and a Drama Desk Award nomination for outstanding actor in a musical on Broadway.

The New York Times called Big River "an energetic and inventive new revival" and Variety said it was "exhilarating and big-hearted! An eye-opening adventure."

"Ford's Theatre is thrilled to present the Washington premiere of Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Deaf West Theatre brings new excitement and interest to this well-known classic and creates a mesmerizing experience for us all. In addition, we are proud to bring to our stage members of the local deaf community, among them a Gallaudet University professor, and several current and former Gallaudet students, including Christopher B. Corrigan who plays Huck Finn," said Ford's Theatre Producing Director Paul R. Tetreault.

Other members of the Washington area deaf community include Willy Conley (Gallaudet University faculty) (Ensemble); Christopher Michael DeSouza (Gallaudet student) (Simon); Andres Otalora (Gallaudet) (Dick/Hank); and Darren Frazier (Gallaudet graduate) (Duke/Silas Phelps). The production also includes Bill O'Brien (Mark Twain), Stanley Bahorek (Tom Sawyer); Michelle Banks (Alice's daughter); Jeannette Bayardelle (Alice, Voice of Alice's daughter); Chris Bloch (Voice of Dick, Hank, Trader); Linda Bove (Miss Watson, Joanna Wilkes, Sally Phelps); Catherine Brunell (Mary Jane Wilkes, Voice of Miss Watson); Debra Buonaccorsi (Ensemble); Walter Charles (Judge Thatcher/Doctor/Voice of Duke); Desiré DuBose (Ensemble); Elizabeth Greene (Widow Douglas, Voice of Sally Phelps); Jay Lusteck (Pap, King, Voice of Silas Phelps); Dan Manning (Preacher); David McLellan (Jo Harper, Lafe, Donald Robinson); David Michael Roth (Ben Rogers, Andy, Ronald Robinson); Ben Thompson (Voice of Simon, Trader, and Sheriff Bell); and Charles Wallace (Ensemble).

Deaf West Theatre, in North Hollywood, originally developed this award winning production in the fall of 2001, and transferred the show to the Mark Taper Forum in 2002. The next year, the production moved to the Roundabout Theatre on Broadway, in a co-production with Deaf West and Roundabout in association with the Mark Taper Forum, where it received a special Tony for Excellence in Theatre as well as two nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical. The original production of Big River opened on Broadway on April 25, 1985, at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre and won seven Tony Awards, including best musical, best book and best score. Musical numbers include Do You Want to Go to Heaven?; Waiting for the Light to Shine; Muddy Water; When the Sun Goes Down in the South; and Worlds Apart.

The initial staging at Deaf West won six Theatre L.A. Ovation Awards, five Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards and five Back Stage West Garland Awards, including best musical.

The show is produced by Atlanta's Theatre of the Stars and Deaf West Theatre, in association with Dallas Summer Musicals, Houston's Theater Under the Stars, Boston's Wang Center for the Performing Arts, in association with the Center Theater Group, Roundabout Theater Company and Jeff Calhoun.

Ford's production of Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is made possible by the generous support of Nortel and Raytheon.

Ford's Theatre Society

Ford's Theatre Society is a not-for-profit corporation created to produce live entertainment on Ford's historic stage. Paul R. Tetreault is Producing Director. In tribute to President Abraham Lincoln's love of the performing arts, Ford's Theatre produces plays and musicals that underscore the character and eclectic culture of American life. Now in its thirty-seventh season, Ford's has produced more than two-dozen world premieres as well as productions of Elmer Gantry; Inherit the Wind; Eleanor: An American Love Story; To Kill a Mockingbird; The Grapes of Wrath and 1776.

Performance Schedule

Running: March 18 – May 1, 2005
Tues.- Sat, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., 2:30 p.m. , March 27-May 1
Sun., 7:30 p.m., March 20 & 27
Sat., 2:30 p.m., March 26-April 16
Wed. & Thurs., 12:00 p.m., March 31; April 7, 13; 20, 21, 27, 28

For more information on Ford's Theatre, please call (202) 347-4833 or visit

Single Ticket prices: $­­25-$48. (Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more.) 1-800 551-SEAT
Box Office: 202 347-4833 or in person
Group Sales: 202 638-2367
TTY: 202 347-5599
Most Olsson's Books & Records

Gift certificates in any denomination may be purchased at the Ford's Theatre Box Office or by calling 202-347-4833.

**Washington actor.