Big River opened on Broadway in the spring of 1895 at the Eugene O’Neill theater. It did extremely well and took home the Tony Award for Best Musical that summer. Before it closed, Big River played over 1,000 performances-- featuring future film and television star John Goodman as Pap Finn, Huck’s drunken and abusive father.
In 2003, Jeff Calhoun directed and choreographed a revival production that featured several deaf actors in leading roles (including that of Huckleberry Finn). It was a partnership between the Roundabout Theatre Company and Deaf West Theatre that combined the efforts of deaf and hearing actors in the same cast. All dialogue and lyrics were both spoken and signed so that the production was equally accessible to all.
The 2003 revival was critically acclaimed and ran for 67 performances. Daniel H. Jenkins (who originated the role of Huck in the first Broadway production) was cast as Mark Twain, a new narrator for the show. He also provided vocals for Tyrone Giordano, who is a deaf actor cast as Huck.