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Leading the way in ‘Tom Sawyer’

“Ain’t Life Good;” the grammar might be a little off, but the sentiment is perfect. That is also the concept of Halifax County Little Theatre’s fall musical, “Tom Sawyer,” based on the Mark Twain classic and written by Ken Ludwig and Don Schlitz, two of Broadway’s best known writers.

 The atmosphere in The Prizery’s Chastain Theater is definitely alive with the joy of music, dance and fabulous story telling. Heading up the lively cast is first time director, Andy Rice. For several years, Rice has been working with theatre programs with The Prizery and Halifax County Little Theatre, but this is the first time he has taken the reins of a total production.

Rice said he was drawn to this production because it offers so many positive aspects for audiences. 

 “There are toe tapping music, rousing dance numbers; and tender, tense and dramatic moments. And a great story from Mark Twain,” Rice said.

He loves that the writers were able to create such a wonderful mix of modern music and presentation while remaining true to Twain’s material. The show features stories of first love, adventure, friendship and family values, yet creates a serious dramatic plot centered on the villainous Injun Joe and a hidden treasure.

The cast is working hard to bring all the luster of a fine production to opening night. Rice admits being overwhelmed at times with the sheer amount of work it takes to see that all aspects of a production are coming together to create a complete performance.  

Rice has insured that things will be ready on opening night by surrounding himself with experienced workers. Serving as stage managers are Ben Berneche and Robin Thompson, with Catherine Glass as producer. 

All have a long history of back stage experience that is needed in a large production.

Based on the energy level of the cast during rehearsals, audiences should leave the theatre with a melody in their heads and a genuine feeling of joy in their hearts. 

The musicians, singers, dancers and actors have created a very exciting visual presentation. 

Rice said he was pleased to find so many talented individuals in the area who have been so willing to give of their time to make this show special. He said he loves the tender moments of the show, such as when Aunt Polly sings a lullaby to Tom after he has a nightmare. He especially has worked to have the scene of the young people trapped in a cave with the murderous Joe as dramatic as possible.

The actors truly shine in this presentation as does the music created for it. Everyone who attends is sure to agree this is a true American Classic told in the finest modern fashion. 

Anyone who is feeling a little worn out from political fatigue or simply wants to forget the problems of the world for a few hours should make plans to attend “Tom Sawyer” when it opens Friday at 7:30 p.m. Additional shows are set for Nov. 17, 23, 24 and 30 and Dec. 1 at 7:30. 

In addition, two matinee performances are set for Nov. 18 and 25 at 3 p.m. 

Individual show tickets and season memberships are on sale now at The Prizery box office at 572-8339, and groups of 15 or more can get group rates. 

Bring the whole family during the Thanksgiving weekend and witness all of the action. Rice and the cast have prepared something special for the holiday season. Those attending too will be singing, “Ain’t Life Good.”