Show History


Show History


Downriver, with a book by Jeff Tambornino and music and lyrics by John Braden (composer for Gulliver's Travels, Silver Queen Saloon, and Five Points, is a musical adaptation of Mark Twain's classic novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Tambornino's book uses the majority of the plot points from the original source material.  However, he chooses to start the action after Huck fakes his own death to escape his father's kidnapping.  The character of Pap is entirely eliminated from the show, with Tom Sawyer instead catching the audience up on the action in the book up to this point.


Downriver premiered Off Off Broadway on December 19, 1975 with the St. C. American Repertory Company at St. Clement's Church Theatre in midtown Manhattan.  The creative team then recorded tan LP of the score in 1978, featuring the voices of Richard Dunne as Huckleberry Finn and Michael Corbett as Tom Sawyer.  It went on to open Off-Broadway at the Musical Theatre Works on January 9, 1985.  It ran for only 12 performances, closing on January 27, and starred John Scherer, Todd Heughens, and Joe Lynn.

Cultural Influence

  • Though a much smaller show by comparison, Downriver was the first musicalized version of the story of Huckleberry Finn.  This paved the way for Roger Miller and William Hauptman to pen the TONY-winning Big River ten years later.