Big River: Theatre for Young Audiences Edition

Full-Length Musical, Comedy  /  3f, 5m

Music and Lyrics by Roger Miller
Revised Book by William Hauptman

Adapted from the novel by Mark Twain

Adapted for a smaller cast performing for today's young audiences, this version of Twain's timeless classic, propelled by Roger Miller's award-winning score, sweeps down the mighty Mississippi in a brilliantly theatrical celebration of friendship against all odds.

“Sings with a renewed voice, celebrating
personal freedom for all.” – DC Theatre Scene

Big River: Theatre for Young Audiences Edition

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    3f, 5m
  • Duration
    75 Minutes
  • SubGenre
    Adaptations (Literature)
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    Appropriate for all audiences
  • Winner! Seven 1985 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Book and Score
    Winner! Seven 1985 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Music, Lyrics and Orchestration
    Nominee: 2004 Tony Award, Best Revival of a Musical
    Nominee: 2004 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Revival of a Musical
Big River: Theatre for Young Audiences Edition
Also Available



Newly revised adaptation designed for a smaller cast performing for today's young audiences! Ideal for teen actors.

With the support of over 100 consensus organizers (individuals and organizations serving the Black community), this revision of Broadway’s Tony-winning musical will lift your spirit. The small-cast, hour-long version of Mark Twain’s celebrated novel has removed offensive language and expanded the role of Jim, now the same age as Huck.

Twain’s classic sweeps audiences down the mighty Mississippi as the irrepressible Huck Finn helps his friend Jim, an enslaved teen, escape to freedom from enslavement. This tale of friendship against all odds is recreated for young audiences as two best friends demonstrate the power young people have to change the world.

Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn premiered on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on April 25, 1985. Directed by Des McAnuff and featuring Daniel H. Jenkins and Ron Richardson, the production earned seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and ran for over 1,000 performances. On July 24, 2003, Big River returned to Broadway for a limited run. Directed by Jeff Calhoun, this Deaf West Theatre production incorporated American Sign Language and earned two Tony nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical. In February 2019, Adventure Theatre MTC produced this TYA version of Big River as a joint production with the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma.

HUCKLEBERRY FINN – An early adolescent boy who has no known father or mother
JIM – A young enslaved man who seeks his freedom, slightly older than Huck
WIDOW DOUGLAS – Doubles as Young Fool and Aunt Sally
THE KING – A clever confidence man
THE DUKE – An aspiring actor
MARY JANE WILKES – A young heiress
ALICE – A young enslaved woman; also appears as ensemble
JUDGE THATCHER – Doubles as Man in Boat, Sheriff Bell and Silas Phelps

Note: Jim and Alice should be portrayed by Black actors.

  • Time Period 19th Century
  • Setting Along the Mississippi River Valley, sometime in the late 1840s.
  • Features Period Costumes
  • Additional Features No intermission
  • Duration 75 Minutes


“Expertly crafted... this heartwarming, entertaining adaptation has an important, empowering message for all who watch.” – DC Theatre Scene

★★★★★ “Condensing the 1985 Tony Award-winning musical down to a brisk 70 minutes, this world premiere revisal takes a few artistic liberties to help reshape it into a piece for the young and young at heart. Happily, the results are engaging from start to finish... Huckleberry Finn’s Big River has enlightened the story and characters to make it even more contemporary... The creators have succeeded in fashioning a version of Twain’s American classic that sings with a renewed voice, celebrating personal freedom for all. I expect this TYA version of the musical will have a long life outside of Glen Echo as other theatres seek to produce stories that echo the diversity of our times.” – DC Theatre Scene

“Brings new perspective to a classic novel... For those who may have been discouraged from reading the classic story of Huck Finn, this Big River is a thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining way to engage with the big ideas in Twain's indictment of slavery and the white culture that profited from it... In order to bring Twain’s creation to contemporary young audiences, the script has been simplified and reviewed by a panel of "consensus organizers" – more than 100 African-American civil rights and community activists – during its development. The result is a much more straightforward portrait of the evolving relationship between Huck Finn and a runaway slave named Jim.” – OnMilwaukee

“Expertly crafted... The excellence of this world premiere of Huckleberry Finn’s Big River ensures that it will become a family theater classic... this heartwarming, entertaining adaptation has an important, empowering message for all who watch.” – DC Theatre Scene


  • Huckleberry Finn's Big River - Trailer

  • Consensus Organizing and Set Design in Huckleberry Finn's Big River

  • Huckleberry Finn's Big River - Meet the Green Cast

  • Huckleberry Finn's Big River - Meet the Blue Cast


01. “Waiting For the Light to Shine” – Huck, Jim, Alice & Ensemble
02. “Looka Here, Huck” – Widow Douglas, Judge Thatcher, Alice & Ensemble
03. “I, Huckleberry, Me” – Huck
04. “Muddy Water” – Jim, Huck & Ensemble
05. “Free At Last” – Jim & Ensemble
06. “River In the Rain” – Huck, Jim & Ensemble
07. “When The Sun Goes Down in the South” – Duke, King, Huck & Jim
07a. “When The Sun Goes Down in the South (Playoff)” – Instrumental
08. “Worlds Apart” – Jim & Huck
09. “Arkansas/How Blest We Are” – Strange Fellow, King, Duke, Alice & Ensemble
10. “Leavin’s Not the Only Way to Go” – Huck, Mary Jane, Alice & Jim
11. “Waiting For the Light to Shine (Reprise)” – Huck, Mary Jane, Alice & Ensemble
12. “Finale: “River in the Rain (Reprise)” – Huck & Jim
13. “Curtain Call: Muddy Water (Reprise)” – Full Company
  • Musical Style Classic Broadway, Country/Western

Licensing & Materials

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Music Rentals

Concord offers a full suite of resources to help you put on the show of a lifetime!
10   Libretto-Vocal Book
1   Piano-Conductor (rehearsal & performance)
1   Acoustic Guitar
1   Violin


Take a look below at how you can enhance your show!


Roger Miller

ROGER MILLER was born in Texas and grew up in Oklahoma. He made his first significant mark on the entertainment world as a songwriter of such hits as "Invitation To The Blues," "Billy Bayou," "In The Summertime (You Don't Want My Love)," "When Two Worlds Collide," "Home, Half ...

View full profile

William Hauptman

William Hauptman was born in Texas and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and the Yale School of Drama. His plays include Heat, Shearwater, Gillette, and Domino Courts, which won a 1977 Village Voice Obie Award. Big River, written in collaboration with composer ...

View full profile

Mark Twain

Mark Twain, pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), was born November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri. In 1862 he became a reporter on the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City, Nevada, and in 1863 began signing his articles with the pseudonym “Mark Twain,” a Miss ...

View full profile


Now Playing

Community Experiences