By Dee Fisher
By Dee Fisher
There's a crowd coming to the Van Wert Civic Theatre in the next two months! Auditions were held Sunday and Monday for our next production, Big River, and the cast list is nearly complete. Soon actors, musicians, costumers, set builders and props gatherers will be tripping over each other, working hard to meet our opening deadline of January 24.

The "big" musical is a tradition at VWCT, one I've participated in for many, many years. It's a real challenge, working around holiday schedules as well as work schedules to put together a major work like Big River, but the results are always worth it. It's great, at this holiday season, to spend time not only with your biological family but also the extended family at the theatre, which is always growing by leaps and bounds with each new production.

Next week, I should be able to announce the cast list in its entirety. I will say that we again have a diverse and wide-ranging cast from not only our own community but also the extended region around Van Wert. Staging a large production like Big River always brings out theatre aficiados from all around our area. I've said before that one of the most thankless jobs in theatre is that of casting, and, once again, the job is made difficult by the availability of talent in our corner of the world.

Have you found a copy of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to read yet? I have to tell you that you don't need to spend any money at all on it! Mark Twain's works are all out of copyright, and you can find them all online at various websites. Just google "read Mark Twain's works online" and you'll find a plethora of sites to peruse. If you have an e-reader, you'll find a e-copy of Huck's story either for free or for under a dollar. Check our wonderful library here in Van Wert, and I know they can help you get started, maybe even with an audio book!

I started on it last weekend, and I have been amazed at what I'm reading. There's something to be said for rereading classics and old favorites later on in life. Much of what we read early in life is read because we have to do it, not because we're interested in the plot or the meaning of the text. There are definitely two levels to Huckleberry Finn's story: the surface story, which is quite enjoyable and accessible, and the underlying themes of racism and hypocrisy which weave their way through the exciting adventures of a young boy on the brink of adulthood. Twain gives us a cross section of rural America of the mid-1800's, painting a picture that, although honest and accurate, is not always pretty or Rockwellian. It is, however, a part of our past that needs to be acknowledged and reckoned with. Americans once owned slaves, and the repercussions of that history continue to affect our everyday lives and the culture we live in to the present day. Seeing the adventures of Huck and Tom and Jim come alive on stage is not only great entertainment. It also allows us to relive a long-dead time in our history, one from which we can hopefully take home new perspectives of life today. Can you tell I'm excited about this new project? Auditions have barely finished, and I'm raring to get the cast ready to open! Big River will run for eleven performances over three weekends: Jan. 24, 25, 26, 27, 31; Feb. 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9. I guarantee this show will chase away the post-holiday blues!

See you at the show!