Director’s Note: “Big River”

Michael Susko

Mark Twain first introduced The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to U.S. audiences in 1885.  I’m sure most of us have read the novel at some point (most likely in English class), and it’s no surprise that this story of friendship and adventure continues to hold up over time.  Opening on Broadway in 1985, the musical adaptation Big River went on to win seven TONY awards, including Best Musical and Best Score for songwriter Roger Miller.

Although Big River is set during the pre-Civil War south, it continues to be current as it addresses human nature, equality, prejudices, and basic human rights.  Huck, like many of us, struggles with the “norms” that society has placed on him even though in his heart he feels differently. A century later, we are still grappling with these ideas.  Black or white, gay or straight, Democratic or Republican, we are all just human beings.  Why can’t we simply embrace the differences that make us unique, while still understanding that the same heart beats inside each of us?

The good news is we have come a long way since Mr. Twain first introduced us to his cast of characters.  But no matter how far we’ve come, the truth is that we can still strive to move further.   There is a little bit of Huckleberry Finn in all of us.   If we embrace the adventure of life, and keep our eye on the prize, we’re sure to do good in this world.  Jump in!  Because no matter what life throws at us, I truly believe that we know in our hearts the caring road we should be taking.  Dare to take your own trip down the big river, and who knows how many lives you’ll change for the better.   In the words of Mark Twain…”Always do right.  This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest.”