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Friday, July 10, 2009


Enjoyable entertainment for the whole family and should not be missed. (Review by Janet Whelan)

What a joy to experience the dedication and enthusiasm of a group of 35 young talented high school learners on stage at the Sneddon Theatre the other night. This year the Rainbow Young Performers have undertaken a production of Big River – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn a family musical version of Mark Twain’s profound classic Huckleberry Finn, which reminds us that two people from very different backgrounds can share a commonality and embark on an astonishing life adventure together.

Well directed by Themi Venturas and beautifully choreographed by Daisy Spencer, the production carried the audience through Huck's adventures on the Mississippi River, while serving as a stark reminder of the plight of slaves at that time. Notable and realistic scenes were when Huck and Jim set off on the raft together and when the slave drivers crossed the stage. The simple sets were enhanced by very effective lighting on the backdrop and the live five-piece band, led by Anne Duthie, settled in one corner of the stage, added a rustic dimension.

The Southern accents were well maintained throughout and sterling performances were given by Sam Pennington playing Huckleberry Finn, Daniel Basckin as Tom Sawyer and Delwin van Jaarsveld as the King. Guest performers John Didlick (who shares the roles of Pap and the Duke with Themi Venturas) added a robust humour to the production, while Bandile Hlope with his powerful voice was particularly well cast as Jim.

From the many musical numbers Hand for the Hog sung by Daniel Basckin got the audience clapping and Muddy Waters, River in the Rain and When the Sun Goes Down in the South also stand out. Worlds Apart sung by Sam Pennington and Bandile Hlope was very moving as was Bandile's magnificent rendition of Free at Last.

Big River – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn runs at the Sneddon Theatre until July 19 with performances July 7 to 11 and July 15 to 18 at 19h30 (no performance July 14); Sundays at 18h00 with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 14h30.

Ticket prices R85 (R65 matinees) booked through Computicket. This is enjoyable entertainment for the whole family and should not be missed. - Janet Whelan.