One-on-one with the stars of PLT’s Huck Finn

Brianna Peoples, Assistant Tempo Editor

Lewis University’s Philip Lynch Theatre continues its 40th anniversary season with the production of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The show, based on the classic novel by Mark Twain, features a large cast of 22 students directed by theatre manager Jo Slowik. So, in order to get the scoop on the first fall production, we sat down with the director and the two leads; Sean Gallagher, sophomore exercise and movement science major with a theatre minor, and Kawaan Panama, theatre major with a business minor.

Our first interview with the director took place in her office, located in the box office at the Oremus Fine Arts Center. Slowik, comfortable in her office which is filled to the brim with PLT memorabilia, answered our questions with great enthusiasm and passion.

1.What was the inspiration for choosing Huck Finn to be a part of the 40th anniversary season?

Well, one of the things we’ve always tried to do is incorporate an American classic into the season. With plays like “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “Our Town,” we’ve always tried to include something that would be considered an American classic. And I personally like big epic stories. And it doesn’t come much bigger and epic than the journey of Huck and Jim down the Mississippi River, in Huckleberry Finn.

2.What do you hope the audience takes away from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?

That’s a tall order. It’s so hard to know what any one audience member is going to get from what you do. You just hope that you touch them in some way. It could be bad, they could absolutely hate the play; you’ve still touched that person. For me, I know it’s been a renewed love of Mark Twain. So if any one person, after they see the show, picks up a book; it doesn’t have to be Huck Finn, it can be The Prince and The Pauper or A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. It can be anything written by Mark Twain. Mission accomplished. Then my work is done.

The second interview with leads Gallagher and Panama quite fittingly took place in the lobby of the Oremus Fine Arts center, right under the sign for the PLT’s 40th anniversary season.

1.How did it feel to be casted as the lead(s) in the production based on a classic novel?

G: I felt very good about it because I always loved the story. I loved reading it back in high school. And when I found out that I got to portray Huck Finn, I saw it as a really great opportunity to not only bring back the story into my life but to also portray the way that I always saw Huck. And I really enjoy the opportunity.

P: It’s pretty honorable, just because of Jim and the characters that are in the show. It’s kind of like American history – the story. So being able to play a lead role, to play Jim, who is necessary for the storyline, it’s just an honor.

2.What are you most looking forward to doing in Huck Finn?

G: There are so many scenes that I really love and I really look forward to performing. I really look forward to Huck’s breakdown in character, when he finally turns. A little thing I look forward to is the high school matinees; to showing younger audience members my portrayal of Huck Finn. When I was younger I saw those productions, the extra credit stuff you went to; and I thought that I could do that, help them understand the art, the book, and then the play. I like that experience. I look forward to that.

P: I’m more excited for the scenes where it’s like Jim and Huck, because those scenes have a lot of the story in it. And they’re also the most dramatic scenes. So I think that’s going to be more fun. And also, I’m just interested in the role because I’ve never had to play a slave role where it’s also a lead. You’re actually a major part of the story. So I think that, if anything is the most exciting part for me. I’m looking forward to that.

This production of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” will also be breaking PLT history by performing three shows in one day for a high school matinee, which has never been done before. So get ready to explore your imagination through the words of Mark Twain! The performance dates for “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” are Oct. 2-4 and Oct. 8-11. For ticket information, contact the PLT Box Office at (815) 836-5500.

Brianna Peoples
Brianna Peoples is a senior public relations/advertising and Spanish major. She is the assistant tempo editor for The Flyer. She also loves all fascists of art, including theatre, music, dance, drawing and photography.

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