The Professional Theatre at Southern Utah University

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Synopsis: Big River

Synopsis: Big River

This adaptation of Mark Twain’s literary classic takes us down the mighty Mississippi River as the wild child Huckleberry Finn and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, search for freedom.

Once a homeless boy, Huck lives in the small town of St. Petersburg, Missouri, with Widow Douglas and Miss Watson, two spinster sisters who took him in. They are trying to teach him the only way to heaven is by reading the Bible. He wants nothing to do with education and religion and would rather leave town to go West, taking his share of $6,000 that he and his friend Tom Sawyer each have from finding stolen gold on a previous adventure. Trouble arises from Huck’s vagabond, alcoholic father, who wants the money, and Huck fakes his own death to escape to Jackson’s Island.

Here he runs into Jim, a runaway slave belonging to Miss Watson. Jim admits to running away to avoid being sold again and to look for his family. Huck promises to help him, even though he could get into trouble. Huck hears a rumor that the town believes Jim “killed” Huck because he ran away the same night as Huck “died,” and so they quickly load a raft and escape on the river.

Soon two desperate men who have recently broken out of jail intrude upon the raft. The King and the Duke are conmen who tell Huck and Jim they are a preacher and an actor. The men come up with the idea of putting on a show in a town they are passing to drum up money from the locals. Jim is left chained to the raft as the men and Huck go into town. The show is ridiculous, but they make some money that they use to celebrate and purchase new clothes.

At the next two on the river, the men and Huck waste no time in staging another elaborate hoax. This time it involves a mourning family, a significant inheritance, shooting, and even Tom Sawyer.

What happens next will determine the future and freedom of both Huck and Jim, on their adventure down the Big River.