This June, The District Theatre in Rock Island debuted a brand new musical experience called “Big Rock Candy Mountain.” Tristan Tapscott, a bluegrass and folk loving local theatre artist, directed, produced and wrote this original story. The story, set in the depression-era, begins as a group of escaped convicts find their way into a locked theatre only to be greeted by a packed house. The convicts hash a plan and explain their presence by posing as a folk-band. As the show progresses the characters play their concert, filled with folk and bluegrass classics, such as the title song “Big Rock Candy Mountain” and other favorites. In between songs, the audience is shown each character’s unique story and background.
This show has many aspects that a theatre patron might not expect to see in any other show in the area. For example, the lead actors were expected to play their own instruments.
Black Hawk College professor and actor Tom Vaccaro plays the character of Walt in the show and recalls the experience, “We all play our own instruments in the show, and we all learned to play four or five different instruments. From guitar to mandolin to bass.”
Vaccaro says that the cast had only rehearsed for about three weeks before debuting at The District Theatre in June. The local show also went on a short tour around Iowa in August.
“Big Rock Candy Mountain” was so popular back in June that show the production has now been revived this September. The last days to catch this local piece of art are Sept. 25 to 28. To purchase tickets or make reservations, visit districttheatre.com/reservations.
(Written by guest contributor, Alexandra Olsen)