St. Luke’s United Methodist Church is proud to present Big River, based on Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. With musical arrangements by Roger Miller and direction by Steve MacKinnon, the show is sure to be a memorable experience for all. During its original Broadway run in 1985, Big River racked up an impressive seven Tony Award wins, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.
This William Hauptman musical follows the whimsical journey of young Huckleberry Finn and runaway slave, Jim, as they float along the Mississippi river in search of a better life. Big River is a sensational comedy and heartwarming fable complete with exhilarating music that celebrates American tradition. It is a powerful tale of friendship, virtue, and independence with a message that transcends race, age, and socioeconomic class. Audiences that attend St. Luke’s production of Big River can expect top-notch entertainment that also includes valuable life lessons.
Steve MacKinnon will be directing, with choreography by Spencer Morrow, and musical direction by John Mason. MacKinnon’s work has recently been seen at the Orlando Repertory Theatre and Orlando Shakespeare Theater. He is a Resident Director/Teaching Artist for Disney Performing Arts with the Walt Disney Company and as of September 2016 he will also join the St. Luke’s staff full-time as the Director of Theatre and Contemporary Music. MacKinnon had this to say when asked about the upcoming production, “I have always deeply related to Huck’s coming-of-age journey, his vacillating nature, and his heart. Big River has been on my bucket list of shows to direct ever since I was a teenager! I look forward to bringing our audience downriver with Huck Finn and Jim to experience this relevant piece of American history, and hope to bring a deeper appreciation of the transformative power that theater can bring to a community.”
The cast is made up of professional and amateur actors from Central Florida. Michael Morman will play Jim in his debut role with St. Luke’s Theater. Michael is a long-time resident of Orlando who has appeared in both professional and community theatre productions in Central Florida for three decades. Recent roles have been in And Then There Were None, Hank Williams Lost Highway, Ragtime, Suddenly Seniors the Musical, The Full Monty and several productions of Driving Miss Daisy. He enjoys his position as a Youth Educator with Universal Orlando Youth Programs.
Dustin Russell is thrilled to be portraying Huckleberry Finn and returning to the St. Luke’s stage for the third year in a row. Audiences will remember his portrayal of Tommy Djilas in last year’s The Music Man. Recent credits include: Matt The Fantasticks, Nicolas Short Who Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, Peter Pan Shrek the Musical TYA, Waiter/Chief Elf A Christmas Story The Musical. Dustin can be seen regularly as a dancer at Universal in their Super Star Parade and as D’Artagnan/Brisemont in The Three Musketeers: Voyage Home a musical stunt show at Pirate’s Town off International Drive.
Big River performances will be Friday, August 12 and Saturday, August 13 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, August 14 at 2:30 p.m., Thursday, August 18 and Friday, August 19 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, August 20 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, August 21 at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are just $12 and can be purchased at st.lukes.org/bigriver. All tickets are for reserved seating. To reserve group tickets, call 407.876.4991 ext. *223. St. Luke’s United Methodist Church is located at 4851 S. Apopka-Vineland Road in Orlando.
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church is located in Orlando, Florida and has close to 5,000 members. St. Luke’s values Christ centered: Acceptance, Hospitality, Community, Discipleship, and Service. The Theater Ministry is in its fifth year of producing musical Theater Productions for the Central Florida community. The United Methodist Church has more than 11.5 million members internationally and is in mission in more than 125 countries. It is the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. with about 35,000 churches.