No, I’m not hallucinating or seeing ghosts but I could swear I recently spent an evening with Mark Twain and it was AMAZING.
I have enjoyed each of the productions that I’ve seen at the Milwaukee Rep during its 65th anniversary season and my first as a social media club member. I’ve enjoyed sharing with all of the readers of this blog my perspective and favorite things about each of these shows. I can’t say for sure but Mark Twain’s River of Song may have been my favorite performance of the season thus far.
This production was two hours of folksy bluegrass goodness coupled with a narrative from the Mississippi River’s most famous traveler, Mark Twain. The stories interwoven with the 24 songs played on a variety of period and regionally appropriate instruments kept me captivated for the entire performance and at the end left me wanting even more. I’m not sure words or even photos can do this production justice.
The on-stage chemistry of the three performers David Lutken, Spiff Wiegand, and Harvy Blanks was incredible. All three of these gentlemen were not only incredible actors but musicians as well and their stage presence brought you right back to the time of Mark Twain and left you feeling like you were sailing down the Mississipi River right along with them. All three had very distinct sounding voices which lent themselves well to the stories they each told through song. I could listen to them sing and jam together ALL night long.
My favorite part of the production (spoiler alert) was when David acting as Mark Twain began to tell the story of Huckleberry Finn (portrayed by Spiff) and his good friend Jim (portrayed by Harvy) and their adventures on their raft floating down the Mississippi. Honestly, a movie couldn’t have depicted this better. AND, if you don’t know this story, seriously go to your local library right now and check out Huckleberry Finn and quit living under a rock.
I don’t have enough words to express how captivated I was by this performance. Literally, I felt like I was hanging out with Mark Twain for an evening and I left with a strong urge to read again of the adventures Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. If you enjoyed this cast of characters at any point in your youth, it’s worth the price of admission to see these stories brought to life on stage in a unique way through song and narrative. This show runs in the Stackner Cabaret through March 17th. If you’re looking for something to do in this cold winter we’re experiencing in Milwaukee, purchase your ticket and take an imaginary adventure to a much warmer place.
Tickets for the show can be purchased online, by calling the Milwaukee Rep’s ticket office at 414-224-9490 or visiting the ticket office in-person at 108 East Wells Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202 while it is open Sunday – Friday from Noon – 6:00 PM.
If this post wasn’t convincing enough, check out the photos below and they just might change your mind.
📸Photo Credit: Michael Brosilow