Cast Size: Medium (5-21) • Large (14+). Vocal Demands: Easy • Moderate. Dance Requirements: Some Dancing Required • Minimal. Good For: Elementary School • High School • College/University • Amateur/Community • Professional Theatre • Religious Organization.
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January 02, 1936
September 20, 1987
November 26, 1942
April 25, 1985
From The Official Roger Miller Website (www.rogermiller.com):
The story of BIG RIVER is as fantastic as any of Roger’s life. The key man was Rocco Landesman, a former Yale professor at the Yale School of Drama who happened to be the world's #1 Roger Miller fan.
"I thought he was an absolute genius," Landesman says. On the way to a New York appearance by Roger at the Lone Star Cafe, Landesman conceived the notion that Miller ought to write a Broadway score—and the Adventures of Huckelberry Finn would be the perfect vehicle. He approached Roger's wife, Mary, after the show. She encouraged him to write a letter to Roger with the idea. Roger jokes, "He made me an offer I couldn’t understand."
Nevertheless, Landesman wrote a number of letters to Miller and about a year later had him convinced he was the right man for the project. Roger was off on another new journey. Landesman commissioned William Hauptman to adapt Twain’s book and the project was underway.
Roger, initially intimidated, spent a year and a half on the first phase of the musical. He was "writing from every corner of my heart," as he put it. The play opened at Harvard's American Repertory Theatre, then moved to La Jolla, California, where a struggling young actor named John Goodman took the role of Huck's father, Pap. In the play, Pap's feature song is "Guv’ment," which Roger wrote while thinking about the uncle who raised him. Elmer Miller didn't drink like Pap, but he did "used to cuss out the government," Roger said.
BIG RIVER opened at New York's Eugene O’Neill Theatre on April 25, 1985, during one of the bleakest seasons in the history of the Great White Way. The press offered the hope, which they clearly considered him, that BIG RIVER might save the day.
As it turned out, the play was a smash hit, earning seven Tony Awards, including Miller's for best score. When Goodman left the role for the movies, Roger took over his part for three months. He also made an album on MCA, called Roger Miller, on which he sang several songs from the play, including "Guv’ment" and the magnificent "River in the Rain."
For Roger, BIG RIVER was the crowning achievement of a fantastic career that to him only then seemed complete. He is the only Country artist to win a Tony Award. With BIG RIVER a proven success, Roger was able to relax at his Santa Fe home and focus on the family life he had made with Mary and their two young children, Taylor and Adam. "I have a brother who’s five and sister who's seven," says Dean Miller, "and they were his all-consuming passion." Roger had found a happiness with Mary and the children he had longed for all his life.
Drama Desk AwardsJanuary 01, 1985 — 7 Awards including Outstanding Music and Outstanding lyrics
January 01, 1985 — 4 Nominations, including Outstanding Revival of a Musical
January 01, 2004 — 4 Nominations, including Outstanding Revival of a Musical
Tony AwardsJanuary 01, 2004 — Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre: The cast of the 2003 Broadway Production of BIG RIVER2 Tony Award Nominations including Best Revival
Vocal Range of Characters:
AccompanEase is now available for BIG RIVER. This new product is a rehearsal tool that allows for unlimited teaching, training and practice of individual vocal parts or dance sequences. Contact Realtime Music Solutions for more information: www.accompanease.com, via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or via phone: 212-620-0774.
InstrumentalEase is now available for BIG RIVER. This new product is an orchestra enhancement instrument capable of augmenting a traditional ensemble of any size. Contact Realtime Music Solutions for more information: www.rms.biz, via email: email@example.com, or via phone: 212-620-0774.
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- BIG RIVER - Orchestra Package (10 Books)
- 1 – WOODWIND (Flute, Clarinet, Soprano Sax, Optional English Horn, Bass Clarinet)
- 1 – PIANO CONDUCTOR (Piano, Harmonium, DX7, Organ)
- 1 – TRUMPET (Doubles Flugelhorn)
- 1 – TROMBONE (Doubles Baritone Horn)
- 1 – DRUMS (Trap Set, Bells, Bell Tree and Triangle)
- 1 – BASS
- 1 – GUITAR I (Banjo, Mandolin, 6 and 12 String Acoustic)
- 1 – GUITAR II (Banjo and 6 String Acoustic)
- 1 – VIOLIN
- 1 – HARMONICA (Doubles Jew's Harp, Tamb, Bass Harmonica)
- Rehearsal Set (22 Books)
- 20 – Libretto/Vocal BOOKS
- 1 – Logo CD
- 2 – PIANO CONDUCTOR (Piano, Harmonium, DX7, Organ)
- 0 – Digital Logo
- Libretto/Vocal Books 10 pack
- 10 – Libretto/Vocal BOOKS
- BIG RIVER - PRE-PRODUCTION PACKAGE
- 1 – Libretto/Vocal BOOKS
- 1 – PIANO CONDUCTOR (Piano, Harmonium, DX7, Organ)
Singing ensemble with many small roles and much doubling possible, consisting of Slaves, Townspeople, Tarts, Mourners, Movers, Patients, Hired Hands
There are 3 Onstage Musicians: a Fiddle Player, Guitar Player, and a Harmonica Player.
The Broadway production used a cast of 7 Women and 14 Men: 9 of whom doubled in various roles.
A Young Fool
Mary Jane Wilkes
Slaves, Townspeople, Tarts, Mourners, Movers, Patients, Hired Hands, et al.
BIG RIVER takes place along the Mississippi River Valley sometime in the late 1840's.
St. Petersburg, Missouri
The Illinois Shore
The Mississippi River, south of St. Louis
The Mississippi River, near Cairo, Illinois
The Riverbank in Kentucky
A Farm near Hillsboro
In the original Broadway production of BIG RIVER, the conductor also played keyboards, and the Woodwind book was played by one player as the English Horn and Bass Clarinet were minimally used.
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