Deaf West Theatre and the Broadway musical: Big River and beyond | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1750-3159
  • E-ISSN: 1750-3167



In February 2014, UCLA hosted a reunion of the cast and production team of Deaf West’s Tony Award-winning production of Big River from 2004. In front of a public audience, participants in the original production reflected on the challenges and rewards of putting together a piece of musical theatre using deaf and hearing actors and incorporating new ideas about how to use American Sign Language (ASL) as the basis for choreography. The panel was introduced by Raymond Knapp and moderated by Jeff Calhoun, and included Michael Arden, Linda Bove, David Kurs, Steve Landau, Bill O’Brien, Tyrone Giordano, Michael McElroy, Gwen Stewart, and Ed Waterstreet. Performances by members of the cast were supervised by Steven Landau and supported by singers and instrumentalists drawn from student ensembles at UCLA, including the UCLA Singers (directed by Rebecca Lord) and the Department of Ethnomusicology’s Bluegrass Band (directed by Scott Linford). The interpreters for the event were Elizabeth Greene, Robbie Sutton, Bob Loparo, and Diana MacDougall. The event was co-sponsored by UCLA and Deaf West Theatre, with funding provided by UCLA’s Department of Musicology, Department of Music (Nelson Fund), Arts Initiative Fund, School of the Arts and Architecture, Division of Humanities, Disability Studies, and Herb Alpert School of Music. The transcription is by Arreanna Rostosky and David Kurs.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): American Sign Language; Big River; Deaf theatre; Deaf West; Tony Awards
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