Signing on the Mississippi

The actor playing Huck Finn is deaf. He uses sign language for all his dialogue--and his songs too--while another actor, perched at the edge of the stage, supplies his voice. His drunken Pap is actually two scraggly, bearded actors, one hearing and one deaf, who play off each other in clever ways (when one takes a swig from a jug of moonshine, the other wipes his mouth). The rest of the cast of Big River, a Broadway revival of the 1985 Tony-winning musical based on Mark Twain's novel, is a mix of deaf and hearing actors--the most ambitious attempt yet to...

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