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Theatre / The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a musical adaptation of the book by Mark Twain created by Don Schlitz and Ken Ludwig. The story opens one day with the roguish Tom delighting the children and making life difficult for the grownups in his town. Tom is content to stick to mischief such as tricking his fellows into painting a fence, showing off for his latest love, Becky Thatcher, or fishing with his friend Huck Finn, but he soon gets pulled into much bigger doings when he and Huck witness Injun Joe murder Doc Robinson and frame Muff Potter, the local drunk-and-do-nothing. At first, Tom and Huck swear to keep silent, but Tom's conscience eats at him and he spills the beans, causing Joe to vow that he'll kill him. Mix in Tom and Becky becoming lost in a cave with the vengeful villain and you have the climax of this musical adaptation.

This musical contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Act Break: The first part of the show ends on a cliffhanger when Injun Joe throws his knife at Tom after the boy testifies and then escapes.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations: of the book of the same name, in this case.
  • The Cavalry: Huck turns up just in time to help turn the tide in the fight against Injun Joe.
  • Crowd Song: "Ain't Life Fine" is sung by all the adults and children of the town as a reflection on how easy (or not) life is during the summer.
  • Duet Bonding:
    • Aunt Polly and Judge Thatcher bond over single parenthood in "Raising a Child By Yourself."
    • Tom and Becky sing "To Hear You Say My Name" when they first fall in love.
  • Exact Words: used by Tom on his teacher during the opening number. He says that the children can leave early if Tom can spell all the states in the Union in sixty seconds. Tom, of course, begins to spell "a-l-l t-h-e s-t-a-t-e-s..."
  • Frame-Up: Injun Joe sets up Muff Potter to take the blame for Doc Robinson's murder. Muff is so dizzy from being hit in the head during a fight that he believes him.
  • Freudian Excuse: Injun Joe. His half-blood ancestry means he's had a hard life.
  • Grief Song: "Light" Reprise, sung as the townsfolk are mourning the disappeared Tom and Becky.
  • Hakuna Matata: "Ain't Life Fine". Both played straight and played with. The children singing the main part are perfectly serious, but midway through the song, the adults start a counterpoint complaining about life.
  • "I Am" Song:
    • "Hey, Tom Sawyer" is a "he is" song describing Tom's mischievousness and intractability.
    • "It Just Ain't Me" is Huck musing about the Widow Douglas' offer to adopt him. He initially tries to pass his refusal off as a recognition that the confines of civilized life aren't for him, but the last portion of the song indicates he might like to try it but fears what his father will do to him and the Widow if he does.
  • I'll Kill You!: After Tom testifies against him at the trial, Joe throws a knife at him with the yells, "You are dead, boy!"
  • I Have Your Wife: Injun Joe grabs Becky near the end to get Tom to come close enough for a fatal blow. Luckily Huck turns up in the nick of time.
  • Kid A Nova: Given that Tom mistakenly mentions the name of his previous girlfriend to his new crush, it seems possible that he's a serial romancer. He's also just a kid.
  • Love Interest: Tom falls in love with Becky Thatcher.
  • Never Learned to Read: Huck. One whole song ("I Can Read") is devoted to his pride and excitement after the Widow Douglas teaches him.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. There are two 'Joes' in the story, although given that one is the villain and the other is Tom's romantic rival they are not likely to get confused.
  • Opening Chorus: "Hey, Tom Sawyer" is the opening song, which lets the viewer know what the residents of the town think of Tom.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Becky becoming involved with Joe Harper seems to be an attempt to annoy Tom.
  • Parental Love Song: "This Time Tomorrow." Aunt Polly, watching her sleeping nephew, muses on time and growing older and promises him that
    One thing is certain
    No matter what you do
    This time tomorrow
    I will still be loving you.
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: Aunt Polly and Judge Thatcher both declare they love their children.
  • Politically Correct History: Averted. The villain is still called "Injun Joe".
  • Puppy Love: Tom and Becky are pre-adolescent, but they flirt with each other (in a fairly innocent way), become engaged, and have a romantic break-up and make-up during the course of the play.
  • Stop Copying Me: During "Hey, Tom Sawyer", Tom continues copying his aunt's words after he tells him to "repeat after her" that he will not play hooky that day.
  • Take Me Instead: When Tom and Becky go missing in the caves, Aunt Polly and Judge Thatcher both pray, begging God to take them instead of their children if someone has to die.
  • Unbroken Vigil: Downplayed. After Tom testifies and incurs Injun Joe's wrath, he is understandably nervous, even when he goes to bed. Aunt Polly sits next to him on at least one night to comfort her nephew.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Injun Joe. Huck and Tom originally vow to keep quiet about what they saw, out of fear that he would hurt them. Let's just say it was a perfectly reasonable fear.