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LogoThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer

A Musical in 2 Acts, 14 Scenes. Book by Ken Ludwig, based on the novel of the same name by Mark Twain. Music and Lyrics by Don Schlitz. Directed by Scott Ellis.

Minskoff Theatre, New York : Opened 26 April, 2001 : closed 13 May, 2001 (21 perfs)

SYNOPSIS

Mark Twain's classic story comes to exuberant musical life in this Broadway adaptation of America's favourite book. The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer is the irresistible story of a fourteen-year-old boy growing up in the heartland of America. This Broadway musical version of Mark Twain's immortal novel is set in 1840 in St. Petersburg, Missouri, a bustling town on the banks of the Mississippi River. In the course of the story, Tom matches wits with his stern Aunt Polly, falls in love with the beautiful, feisty Becky Thatcher, and goes on the adventure of his life with Becky and that irresistible renegade, Huckleberry Finn. Along the way we meet a terrifying villain named Injun Joe, Tom's bratty half-brother Sid, and all the other boys and girls in the village - providing one scene-stealing children's role after the other.

As this fun-filled musical unfolds, we share with Tom and his friends all of the rollicking and heart-stopping adventures that we find in Twain's masterpiece, whether it's Tom tricking his friends into white-washing the fence ("Smart Like That"), crossing swords with schoolmaster Lemuel Dobbins ("Hey, Tom Sawyer"), getting lost in McDougal's Cave ("Angels Lost"), or taking on the Reverend Sprague in church ("In The Bible").

Filled with foot-stomping, toe-tapping songs by Don Schiltz ("The Gambler"), and a warm, funny book by Ken Ludwig ("Crazy For You," "Lend Me A Tenor"), The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer is a tale of thrilling escapes, comedy and inspiration for the whole family.

STORY:

Act One

When the curtain rises we see Tom Sawyer happily fishing in a meadow outside St. Petersburg, Missouri in 1840. When his friends arrive, he joins them in a game of Robin Hood. Tom’s strict but kindly Aunt Polly sends him off to school – where he tricks the schoolmaster, Mr. Dobbins, into letting the class have the day off. Aunt Polly, Mr. Dobbins and the preacher, Reverend Sprague lament that they can’t do a thing about the boy.

The next morning, Aunt Polly orders Tom to whitewash the fence in front of their house. Tom’s half-brother, Sid, an insufferable goody-goody, couldn’t be happier. Frustrated, Tom sings about his plan to some day run away and have adventures. As Tom procrastinates, he meets a beautiful newcomer to the town, Becky Thatcher. They’re instantly attracted to each other. Next, along comes Tom’s best friend in the world, the town’s outcast, Huckleberry Finn. When Huck comments that painting the fence looks like fun, Tom gets an idea. Moments later, Tom tricks his schoolmates into painting the fence for him – and paying for the privilege.

That night, Tom and Huck go on an adventure and visit the local graveyard. There, hidden behind a gravestone, they see Injun Joe, a troublemaker, have a fight with Doc Robinson, the local doctor. Before long, Joe murders Doc Robinson before their eyes! The boys run off and swear in blood to keep mum forever about the bloody deed. Meanwhile, Injun Joe arranges to have a local vagrant, Muff Potter, blamed for the murder.

The next morning, on the way to church, Aunt Polly and Judge Thatcher, both single parents, commiserate about bringing up a child single-handedly. Later that day, in church, Tom tries to impress Becky Thatcher by tricking Reverend Sprague into awarding him the coveted “Bible Prize”.

On the way to school the next day, Tom tries to convince Huck to learn to read, but Huck is afraid. A few minutes later, Huck saves kindly old Widow Douglas from the advances of the town drunk. In gratitude, she also offers to teach Huck how to read; in fact, she offers him her home as a place to live. Huck declines. In school that day, Tom saves Becky from getting into trouble. Moments later, they declare their undying love for each other.

A few days later, Muff Potter is arrested for murder. Muff doesn’t realise that Injun Joe has framed him, and he pleads with Joe to save him from hanging. Joe says he’ll help, provided that Muff gives him a map that Muff has found – a map leading to that legendary treasure, Murrell’s Gold. As Muff is taken to jail, Tom faces a terrible choice: Should he tell the truth about the murder and save Muff Potter – thereby incurring the wrath of Injun Joe? Or should he keep his vow to Huck and let Muff hang?

At Muff Potter’s trial, Tom takes the stand. He tells the truth and swears that Injun Joe committed the murder. Injun Joe springs from his seat and screams “You are dead, boy!” He throws a knife at Tom, then races from the courtroom amid a hail of gunfire.

Act Two

A few weeks later, school is dismissed for the summer and the children and their parents celebrate. That night, in his bedroom, Tom has a terrifying nightmare about Injun Joe. Aunt Polly comforts him and puts him to sleep with a lullaby. The next morning, after weeks of secret tutoring by Widow Douglas, Huck at last learns how to read. He and the Widow celebrate with a song of joy.

This is the day of the annual town picnic, and the festivities begin with the exploration of McDougal’s Cave, a cavern of frightening size and darkness. As the townsfolk head for the cave, we learn that Injun Joe is back in town. He, too, is going into the cave – to find Murrell’s Gold. Now, however, a tragedy occurs. Tom and Becky get lost in the cave. Aunt Polly and Judge Thatcher are frantic, and they and the rest of the town begin searching for the two children.

Underground, Tom and Becky desperately try to find a way out of the cave. Tom assures Becky that they’ll succeed. When Becky is alone for a moment, Injun Joe springs from a passage and grabs her, demanding to know where Tom is. Suddenly Tom jumps out from behind a rock; and a moment later, Huck shows up. With great courage, the three friends battle Injun Joe and defeat him. Though badly shaken, the children find Murrell’s Gold – a vast treasure of gold coins. Moments later, they see a ray of daylight shining through a crack in the wall. Exhausted, they crawl out of the cave, safe at last.

The next day, the people of St. Petersburg are holding a funeral service for the lost children. During the service, Tom, Huck and Becky limp into town. They peek into the church – and realise that they’re watching their own funeral! When the children are discovered, the town goes wild with happiness. Aunt Polly is overjoyed to have Tom back. Sid is not.

In the final moments of the play, Huck reveals to Tom that he’s learned how to read, and the two friends run off to celebrate with the rest of the town.

Musical Numbers

  1. Hey, Tom Sawyer - Tom Sawyer, Aunt Polly, Lemuel Dobbins, Rev. Sprague, Townspeople
  2. Here's My Plan - Tom Sawyer
  3. Smart Like That - Tom Sawyer, Ben Rogers, Boys
  4. Hands All Clean - Injun Joe
  5. The Vow - Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn
  6. Ain't Life Fine - Townspeople
  7. It Ain't Just Me - Huckleberry Finn
  8. To Hear You Say My Name - Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher
  9. Murrel's Gold - Injun Joe, Muff Potter, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn
  10. The Testimony - Tom Sawyer, Townspeople
  11. Ain't Life Fine (reprise) - Townspeople
  12. This Time Tomorrow - Aunt Polly
  13. I Can Read - Huckleberry Finn, Widow Douglas
  14. You Can't Can't Dance - Judge Thatcher, Aunt Polly, Townspeople
  15. Murrel's Gold (reprise) - Injun Joe
  16. Angel's Lost - Aunt Polly, Judge Thatcher, Townspeople
  17. Light - Tom Sawyer
  18. Angel's Lost (reprise) - Becky Thatcher
  19. Light (reprise) - Townspeople
  20. Finale - Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Becky Thatcher, Boys, Girls

Scenes and Settings

The action takes place in St. Petersburg, Missouri, in 1844.

Act 1

Scene 1: A Meadow and the town of St. Petersburg.
Scene 2: The fence in front of Tom's house.
Scene 3: The graveyard.
Scene 4: On the way to church.
Scene 5: Outside the schoolhouse.
Scene 6: Inside the schoolhouse.
Scene 7: The alley behind the jail.
Scene S: Inside the courthouse.

Act 2

Scene 1: The school and the town.
Scene 2: Tom's bedroom.
Scene 3: Widow Douglas' front porch.
Scene 4: The picnic grounds, Cardiff Hill.
Scene 5: McDougal's Cave.
Scene 6: Inside and outside the church.

ORIGINAL CAST

(in order of appearance):

Swings: Patrick Boll, Michael Burton, John Herrera, Kate Reinders, Elise Santora