A Twist on the Classic

Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Photo by: Butch Eudailey
Huck and Jim make their grand escape.

Instead of sticking to the well-known classic The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, written by Mark Twain, Midlo theater teacher Mr. Ryan Gallagher chose a different path, composing his own adaptation. The play kicked off on Thursday, February 11, the first of a three night performance. As an unexpected twist, the directors, Mr. Gallagher, Mrs. Katherine Baugher, and Andrea Taylor foreshadowed events from the end of the play at the beginning. The play abruptly began with loud gun shots rippling throughout the auditorium, as Emily Peachee (Tom Sawyer), Andrew Bartee (Jim), and Sophia Trout (Huckleberry Finn) made their first great escape.

In order to explain the thoughts and actions of Huck, Hannah Hodges narrated throughout the play, which kept the audience on their edge of their seats. In a memorable performance, Andrew Bartee portrayed Jim, a slave on the run from his master, Miss Watson, and her sister, Widow Douglas. Mikaela Gray and Avi Ben-Meir masterfully played these two pristine women. With the help of Huck and Tom, Jim starts his journey up the Mississippi in hopes of finding freedom. Through their travels, Huck and Jim form an undeniable friendship, which strengthens after he shields Jim from angry gunmen and harsh white plantation owners. Huck Finn faces his own mission to escape, not from slavery, but from his alcoholic father Pap, aggressively played by Michael Rowe.

Later in the play, Tom Sawyer and his gang, extravagantly attack a group of Sunday school students and their teacher, played by Kimmy Wrobel. The young and vibrant gang members included: Peyton Stange, Garrett Redden, and Samantha Romeriz. After an energetic fight that involved swords, guns, a stick, and an umbrella, the Sunday school students run off in fear, leaving Tom Sawyer and the Sunday school teacher alone to battle it out. After a long and difficult duel between the two foes, the Sunday school teacher emerges victorious, leaving Tom in tears after she malevolently destroys his sword. Overall, the fight includes exciting twists and turns that leave the audience wanting more.

During Jim and Huck’s journey up the river, they encounter numerous people. After a traumatic incident with an intimidating steamboat, Huck stumbles upon an energetic family, the Grangerfords after being separated from Jim. They welcome him with open arms, and he forms a close bond with one of their sons, Buck, portrayed by Sean Dudley. While he and Buck adventure one day, Buck reveals to Huck the story of a century-long dispute between his family and the Shepherdsons. A few days later, Sophia Grangerford (Eryn Marsh) and Harney Shepherdson (Alex Haley) leave their families and elope in a place far away. As children of feuding families, this decision causes an uproar between the two households, leading to the death of Huck’s good friend Buck and an eventual path back to Jim for Huck.

Soon after, the audience hears the pounding footsteps of two con men, played by Payton Vernier and Truitt Elliot, who refer to themselves as the King and the Duke. During the second act of the play, these two characters develop the deceitful idea to con the townspeople of their money by putting on a phony show, which leads to the townspeople angrily running them out of town. Following this, they meet the Wilkes family and find themselves tangled in the tragic death of Mary Jane Wilks, portrayed by Hannah Lee, Joanna Wilks, portrayed by Grace York, and Rebekah Wilks, portrayed by Avi Ben-Meir’s father. The King and the Duke instinctively put on another act and pretend to be the brother of the dead man in order to inherit money. The three girls naively believe them and give them $6,000, which upsets Huck and convinces him to do the right thing and be honest. The King and the Duke turn on each other, and Huck finds a way to run away.

After this riveting scene, the play flashes back to the first scene of the play, and Tom Sawyer in his state after being shot in the leg. Tom Sawyer confides in his Aunt Sally (Bailey Blair) and Uncle Silas (John Mora) about his elaborate lie and reveals that Jim was a free man the entire time because Ms. Watson died two months prior to Jim’s escape, but he did not say anything because he wanted to have the thrill of an adventure.

With the help of the crew members, theatre productions, and set design directors Cole McDeshen and Micah Mitten, the stage at Midlothian High School transformed into the old Mississippi Valley, 170 years ago. With a set so extravagant, it caused the actors to perfectly play into their roles as if they actually lived in that time period. The creative narration of Huck Finn by Hannah Hodges left the audience in awe, as she perfectly described the actions of this stunning interpretation of the play, The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn.