Big fun with Big River


Lethbridge Musical Theatre is getting ready for a musical trip down the big muddy Mississippi for the next couple weeks.
 Big River, a musical interpretation of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, sets sail on Friday, Nov. 6 for a two week journey at the Yates Theatre.Dusty Dee Litchfield, who plays Huck Finn in Big River gets make-up done by Sheena Lawson. Photo By Richard Amery
“This is the best cast we’ve had in a long time,” said artistic director Kim Walburger adding Lethbridge does a major production every year at the Yates.
“This is the story of Huckleberry Finn. It won seven Tony Awards when it first came out but it came out at the same time as “A Chorus Line” so it was overshadowed by that. It’s almost word for word just like the book, but there’s  music in it — down southern U.S.A music,” he continued adding he’s wanted to bring the production to Lethbridge for quite a few years.
“We’ve got quite a few new people and a lot of people I’ve worked with before, so it’s been fun  to see them all grow,” he said noting having Juran Greene (who is best known for  singing with local funk/R and B band Hippodrome) playing the slave Jim has really helped the cast mesh with each other.
“He is a really great singer. I always said if we could get Juran, the rest of the cast would come together. And (Taber country singer) Dusty Dee Litchfield plays Huck Finn. He is Huck Finn. And we’ve got boys singing six part harmonies. It’s usually difficult getting boys to sing two part harmonies,” Walburger enthused.

Juran Greene, who plays Jim in Big River, examines a catfish. Photo by Richard Amery“It’s just such a great family show. I don’t think there’s any cussing in it at all, maybe a damn or two. And it talks a bit about slavery, about what it was like without preaching about it,” he added, noting last time he did choreography for  “Big River” in Raymond in 1992, it sold out immediately, even after adding 100 extra seats. He is hoping the Lethbridge production will do as well. “Big River” includes a cast of 40 plus another 50 working behind the scenes who come from Taber, Magrath, Raymond as well as Lethbridge. It even includes a pit band beneath the stage.
“It’s just been fun. It’s not too serious of a show. It’s a just a fun story. There’s so many people involved. It takes a  big group to put on a show like this,” he said adding he has had to put on the show  while fighting a bout  with pneumonia for the past week but is impressed with how well it has come together, thanks to the dedicated cast and crew.
“I think people will be really surprised at how good this production is,” he said.
Tickets, which cost $21, went on sale Oct 13. They are available at the Ticket Centre or by calling  (403) 329-Seat. Or online at


“Big River” runs Nov. 6-8,11-14, 18-21 at the Yates Theatre at 8 p.m. each night except for a  2 p.m. matinee on Nov. 8.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor