Shawnee-based theatre company partners with The Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City to produce Huck Finn musical

From left, Huck played by Ryan Jacobs and Jim played by DeMarkus Howell. Photo courtesy of Music Theatre Kansas City

For the first time in Music Theatre Kansas City’s history, the Shawnee-based organization is partnering with The Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City to put on a musical production of “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

The musical, which debuts March 16 and runs through March 24, features a cast of 45, including 25 youth performers and 20 adult actors from the Kansas City area. This live performance also features a live orchestra.

Leading the cast and crew for this production are: Damon Russell Armstrong, executive artistic director of The Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City; Andy Penn, MTKC assistant director; and Julie Danielson, MTKC artistic director who is directing music.

“It’s been an interesting experience working with a very diverse cast, not just in ethnicity but also in age differences,” said Cary Danielson Pandzik, founder of Music Theatre Kansas City. “Our normal program is a training program for young people interested in musical theatre, but this time we have a combination of youth and adults. In this performance, the youngest is 12 and the oldest is 72. It’s a neat group to work with. Everyone is learning from everybody else.”

A musical adaptation of Mark Twain’s literary classic, “Big River” follows the adventures of Huckleberry Finn and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, who are searching for freedom.

Five performances of “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” will be presented at B&B Live!, located inside the B&B Shawnee Movie Theatre Complex, 16301 Midland Drive in Shawnee:

  • 7 p.m. Saturday, March 16
  • 7 p.m. Friday, March 22
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, March
  • 7 p.m. Saturday, March 23
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, March 24

Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults and may be purchased online at or in person at the B&B Shawnee Box Office.

The Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City is a nonprofit organization that utilizes theatre productions to showcase “the contributions made by minorities in our neighborhoods and communities,” according to the organization’s website.

Music Theatre Kansas City is a nonprofit program designed to train youth in musical theatre and produces shows featuring youth as well as adults.