Photography by Rett Peek
Just as summertime beckons adventure, Argenta Community Theater invites friends and patrons to experience Big River: A Great American Musical – the epic tale that carries Huckleberry Finn and Jim down the Mighty Mississippi. The two embark on a journey of unexpected obstacles + observations that ultimately reflect the transformative power of friendship + personal freedom.
Under the direction of Brandon Box-Higdem, who’s worked with ACT in many different capacities since its inception, the musical’s beloved Twain characters come to life in a heartfelt tale that showcases simple lessons that are the fabric of our American culture. Brandon notes, “It’s who we are as a country – this history of unlikely friendships and personal discoveries.” He believes the story is as timely as ever and adds, “The music pulls you into the scenes with Jim and Huck. Their journey into the Mississippi bayou and the show’s gospel-styled music reaches deep into the soul and soothes the human spirit.”
Based on the novel by Mark Twain, the iconic role of Jim is portrayed by Arkansas native Jeremiah Herman and his rendition is congruent with ACT’s continued mission fulfillment work to provide quality theater in Central Arkansas. “We want to educate and engage our audiences with diverse and challenging topics and the best talent in the state,” explains Vincent Insalaco.
As Jeremiah’s first Argenta Community Theater production, he recognizes ACT’s ability to create thoughtful conversations and change perceptions. He shares his insight + inspiration for what makes community theater special.
Why is community theater so important?
Community theater is an opportunity for people who love the craft of theater and performance to put that passion into practice. And like all things that are worth doing, it can be hard at times. But more often than not, a beautiful moment is created. And it is those beautiful moments that get us from one day to the next. Sometimes it tells us something about ourselves that we didn’t realize or sometimes about a social issue that needs to be addressed. These moments created by community theater are like produce from a farmer’s market. It is a shared experience with people who care about craft of theater and the local economy – which makes it all the more meaningful when you experience a live production of community theater.
What impresses you most about this production?
Our director has a big vision for how this show will look, sound and feel like – the audience can expect a truly authentic adventure story that stays close to the tone, plot, subject matter and language of the source material.
What is your favorite production and why?
Two favorites: Parade and Company. Parade was a college production and was a great moment in my life with wonderful people singing hard but beautiful music. It was so fun. Company was just an awesome production, I was young and surrounded by great talent from the area. Frankly, we sounded amazing. It was a tight show.