The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The classic Mark Twain story jumps off of the page in this adaptation of America's favorite book.
Show Essentials
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Full Synopsis

Act One

The curtain rises on Tom Sawyer, happily fishing in a meadow outside of St. Petersburg, Missouri, in 1840. When his friends arrive, as the obvious leader, Tom joins them in a game of Robin Hood. Tom's strict, but kindly, Aunt Polly sends him off to school, where he tricks the schoolmaster, Mr. Dobbins, into letting the class have the day off. Aunt Polly, Mr. Dobbins and the preacher, Reverend Sprague, lament what a rascal he is, but they will try their best with him all the same ("Hey, Tom Sawyer").

The next morning, Aunt Polly orders Tom to whitewash the fence in front of their house. Tom's half-brother, Sid, an insufferable goody-goody, couldn't be happier about Tom's punishment. Frustrated, Tom plans to run away someday and have adventures ("Here's My Plan"). As Tom procrastinates, Becky Thatcher, a beautiful newcomer to St. Petersburg, walks past his house. They're instantly attracted to each other. She is Judge Thatcher's only daughter, and, when he and Aunt Polly establish that they are both raising children alone, they bond. Then, Tom's best friend in the world arrives: Huckleberry Finn, the town outcast. When Huck comments that painting the fence looks like fun, Tom gets an idea. Moments later, Tom tricks his schoolmates into painting the fence for him... and gets them to pay him for the privilege ("Smart Like That")!

That night, Tom and Huck go on an adventure and visit the local graveyard. Huck has told Tom that he can get rid of warts by swinging a cat in a graveyard. Hidden behind a gravestone, the boys see the troublemaking Ol' Man Joe, Doc Robinson and a local vagrant known as Muff Potter, digging up a grave. Ol' Man Joe and Doc Robinson get in a fight over how much Doc is paying them ("Hands All Clean"). In the fight, Muff gets knocked unconscious. Ol' Man Joe murders Doc Robinson with Muff's knife, and Tom and Huck have witnessed the entire thing.

The boys run off. Tom wants to tell someone, but Huck convinces him that Ol' Man Joe will come after them if they do. They swear in blood to keep mum forever about the bloody deed ("The Vow"). Meanwhile, Ol' Man Joe convinces Muff that he killed Doc, and Ol' Man Joe agrees to help Muff in exchange for half of Murrell's gold. Muff has a treasure map leading to the gold and agrees.

The next morning, on the way to church, Aunt Polly and Judge Thatcher, both single parents, commiserate about raising children on their own ("Raising a Child"). Later that day, in church, Tom tries to impress Becky Thatcher by tricking Reverend Sprague into awarding him the coveted Bible Prize, much to Sid's dismay ("It's in the Bible").

On the way to school the next day, Tom tries to convince Huck to learn to read, but Huck is afraid. A few minutes later, Huck saves kindly old Widow Douglas from the advances of the town drunk – his father. In gratitude, she offers to teach Huck how to read; she even offers her home as a place to live, but Huck declines ("It Just Ain't Me"). In school that day, Tom saves Becky from getting into trouble. Moments later, they declare their undying love for each other. Tom says that they should become "engaged," and she agrees ("To Hear You Say My Name").

A few days later, Muff Potter is arrested for murder. Muff doesn't realize that Ol' Man Joe has framed him, and he pleads with Joe to save him from hanging. Joe says that he'll help, as long as he gets the gold. Muff gives him the map ("Murrell's Gold"). As Muff is taken to jail, Tom faces a terrible choice: Should he tell the truth about the murder and save Muff Potter, thereby incurring the wrath of Ol' Man Joe? Or should he keep his vow to Huck and let Muff hang ("Murrell's Gold – Reprise")?

At the trial, Ol' Man Joe sells out Muff and testifies that he saw Muff kill Doc Robinson. Then, Tom takes the stand. He tells the truth and swears that Ol' Man Joe committed the murder. Huck, inspired by Tom's honesty, admits that he, too, saw the crime. Ol' Man Joe springs from his seat and threatens Tom. He throws a knife at him before racing from the courtroom amid a hale of gunfire ("The Testimony").

Act Two

A few weeks later, school is dismissed for the summer, and the children and their parents celebrate ("Ain't Life Fine"). Tom, however, is on edge. He cancels his plan to go to the picnic with Becky, and she gets upset with him – threatening to go with Joe Harper instead. They have a fight and end their "engagement." That night, in his bedroom, Tom tells Aunt Polly that he isn't going to the picnic. Aunt Polly assures Tom that Ol' Man Joe is in Mexico and tells him to go to bed; she puts him to sleep with a lullaby ("This Time Tomorrow"). Tom has a terrifying nightmare about Ol' Man Joe, much to Sid's delight. Aunt Polly comforts him and puts him back to bed ("This Time Tomorrow – Reprise").

The next morning, after weeks of secret tutoring by Widow Douglas, Huck at last learns how to read. He and the Widow celebrate ("I Can Read!").

Everyone arrives at the annual town picnic. The festivities begin with the exploration of McDougal's Cave, a cavern of frightening size and darkness. As the townsfolk head for the cave, we learn that Ol' Man Joe is back in town. He, too, is going into the cave to find Murrell's Gold ("Murrell's Gold – Reprise"). Tom and Becky have been paired as cave-exploring partners, much to their chagrin. However, as they explore the caves, they make up. The bell rings for them to go back to the surface, and Tom and Becky realize that they are lost. Aunt Polly and Judge Thatcher are frantic and they begin searching for the two children with the help of the rest of the townspeople ("Angels Lost").

Underground, Tom and Becky desperately try to find a way out of the cave. Becky is very scared, but Tom urges her to stay positive and promises that they'll get out ("Light"). Tom leaves Becky alone for a moment, trying to find a way out; she prays ("Angels Lost – Reprise"). Ol' Man Joe springs from a passage and grabs her, demanding to know where Tom is. Suddenly, Tom jumps out from behind a rock, and Huck shows up a moment later. With great courage, the three friends battle Ol' Man Joe and defeat him. Tom and Becky then find Murrell's Gold, a vast treasure of gold coins. They realize that Huck is badly hurt; this is especially problematic, as Huck is the one who knows the way out. Just then, Tom sees a ray of daylight shining through a crack in the wall. Exhausted, they manage to get Huck to his feet and they all crawl out of the cave, safe at last, with gold in tow.

The next day, the people of St. Petersburg are holding a funeral service for the lost children ("Light – Reprise"). During the service, Tom, Huck and Becky limp into town. They peek into the church – and realize that they're watching their own funeral! They sneak into the church and watch all of the nice things that are being said about them. Reverend Sprague discovers the children in the pew, and the town goes wild with happiness. Aunt Polly is overjoyed to have Tom back, but Sid is not. In the final moments of the show, Huck reveals to Tom that he's learned how to read, and the two friends run off to celebrate with the rest of the town ("Finale").

← Back to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Cast Size: Medium (11 to 20 performers)
Cast Type: Children
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

Tom Sawyer
Our story's title character. A boy on the verge of manhood full of mischief and hope, suffering greatly from the pangs of growing up. He is very likable, intelligent, intuitive and carefree.
Gender: male
Age: 12 to 14
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: A2
Huckleberry Finn
Tom's best friend. He is stubborn, loyal, proud, and good-natured. Lives a life of free will and enjoys it that way.
Gender: male
Age: 12 to 15
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Sidney Sawyer
Tom's half-brother and an insufferable goody-goody who dislikes Tom and does everything he can to get him into trouble.
Gender: male
Age: 10 to 13
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: E4
Ben Rogers
The ringleader of Tom's classmates. He is not as mischievous as Tom, but still a typical boy on the verge of manhood. Slightly jealous of Tom in an idolizing manner.
Gender: male
Age: 12 to 15
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Becky Thatcher
An utterly beautiful woman. Bright, smart, youthful, and funny. She is the new girl in town and falls for Tom instantly.
Gender: female
Age: 12 to 15
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Judge Josiah Thatcher
Becky's father. A widower trying to raise a girl as best he can. He is handsome and craggy.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: A2
Lemuel Dobbins
The schoolmaster and village demagogue. Prides himself on being strict but has a soft, poetic side as well.
Gender: male
Age: 25 to 45
Vocal range top: E4
Vocal range bottom: B2
Reverend Joshua Sprague
Eagle-eyed and severe. He is the village Reverend. Stately and poised preaching with a 'fire and brimstone' mindset, full of passion and verve.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: E4
Vocal range bottom: B2
Ol' Man Joe

A proud, bitter, downtrodden man whose sharp face and hollow cheeks makes him look like death himself. Half Native American and half white, he has been treated with contempt his whole life. He now has a heart as black as wood smoke.

The name “Injun Joe” is from the Mark Twain novel this musical is based on. Because of the derogatory nature of the word "Injun", the authors have approved of the option to change the character’s name to “Ol’ Man Joe”.

Gender: male
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: E4
Vocal range bottom: D3
Muff Potter
A vagrant and derelict drunk. Not a bad man, he just doesn't have the backbone to say no when others lead him astray.
Gender: male
Age: 60 to 70
Vocal range top: E4
Vocal range bottom: D3
Doc Robinson
A pompous, unpleasant man with a chip on his shoulder. He is bossy, thieving, and impatient. An all around "bad guy."
Gender: male
Age: 45 to 55
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: E3
Aunt Polly
Tom's Aunt. She tries to discipline and keep him in line but is at her wit's end. Ever so patient, she loves both Tom and Sid and does her best to single-handedly take care of them both.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: E3
Widow Douglas
A pretty, older woman of some wealth. Kind-hearted and giving, she offers Huck a home with a bed and cooked meals.
Gender: female
Age: 60 to 70
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Friends (Joe, George, Lyle, Alfred); Schoolmates (Amy Lawrence, Lucy Harper, Sabrina Temple, Susie Rogers); Townsmen
Full Song List
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Overture
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Hey, Tom Sayer
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Here's My Plan
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Smart Like That!
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Hands All Clean
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: The Vow
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Raising a Child
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Old Hundred
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: In the Bible
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: It Just Ain't Me
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: To Hear You Say My Name
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Murrel's Gold
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: The Testimony
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Entr'acte
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Ain't Life Fine
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: This Time Tomorrow
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: I Can Read
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Murrel's Gold (Reprise)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Angels Lost
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Light
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Angels Lost (Reprise)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Light (Reprise)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Finale

Show History


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a musicalized version of the classic novel by Mark Twain, set in Missouri in the 1840s. The seeds for the musical were planted in the early 1990s at a Nashville songwriters' retreat, which was held in the attempt to draw some country artists to write for Broadway. Don Schlitz, a Grammy-winning songwriter who has written country hits for everyone from Kenny Rogers to Randy Travis to Mary-Chapin Carpenter, had been invited to attend the day-long seminar and was impressed with what he heard. The late director Mike Ockrent connected him with bookwriter Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Crazy for You) to start working on the show. Over the course of six or so years, Schlitz claims that he wrote between 75 to 80 songs for the musical.

In adapting the novel to the stage, Ludwig kept many of the major facets of the story intact. Most notably missing is the rather dark ending from the book, that of Injun Joe being accidentally sealed inside McDougal's Cave, later discovered to have starved to death. Instead, the musical ends with Tom, Huck and Becky observing their own funerals, and the friends celebrating with the rest of the town.


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer premiered at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, Connecticut, on February 28, 2001. The cast featured Joshua Bell as the title character, in addition to performances from Kristen Bell, Tom Aldredge, Jane Connell and John Dossett. The production then moved to Broadway, opening at the Minskoff Theater on April 26, 2001. However, in a Broadway season dominated by The Producers, the musical was short-lived and it closed on May 13, after 21 performances and 34 previews. However, it has gained new legs in regional houses and has become a popular choice among community theatres across America.


  • The Broadway production of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was nominated for two Tony Awards, four Drama Desk Awards and two Outer Critics Circle Awards. It was also nominated for a Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical.

Critical Reaction

"A joyous, wholesome, literate, and wonderfully realized production guaranteed to dazzle and enchant children and adults alike. Ken Ludwig has provided a theatrically lucid and intelligent adaptation of Twain's masterpiece, a book many consider the Great American Novel, without sacrificing credibility to dramatic structure or moral honesty to histrionic preachiness. Don Schlitz has provided music and lyrics so firmly grounded in the American rural experience as to seem songs you learned in childhood, and are here hearing again after being forgotten for too many years."
– Talkin' Broadway

"Mr. Ludwig's book does a nifty job of condensing the novel, maintaining its episodic character but cleverly joining elements from different scenes to keep the narrative bobbing along. ...Mr. Schlitz, a Grammy-winning composer of country songs (including "The Gambler"), has written a handful of winning tunes."
– The New York Times

"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer [is] fast-moving and bright.... [It] overflows with innocence and affection. ...Such a well-packaged work, and such good fun."
– The Washington Post

"There are a few strong songs admirably performed by the talented adults.... The book by Ken Ludwig hits the iconic moments of Twain's famous novel.... There are worthy elements here."
– TheaterMania

"Tom Sawyer had charm, melody, and a genuine professional polish. ...The score by country songwriter Don Schlitz was a tuneful and polished professional effort. ...Schlitz's first-ever Broadway effort blended easily with Ken Ludwig's often amusing book, which played some interesting variations on the original story."

Drama Desk Award

2001 - Outstanding Costume Design, Nominee (Anthony Powell)
2001 - Outstanding Lighting Design, Nominee (Kenneth Posner)
2001 - Outstanding Orchestrations, Nominee (Michael Starobin)
2001 - Outstanding Set Design of a Musical, Nominee (Heidi Ettinger)

Theatre World Award

2001 - Outstanding New Performer, Winner (Joshua Park)

Tony® Award

2001 - Lighting Designer, Nominee (Kenneth Posner )
2001 - Scenic Designer, Nominee (Heidi Ettinger )



Based on the novel by Mark Twain.


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The Adventures of
Based on the Novel by Mark Twain
Conceived and Written by
Music and Lyrics by
Originally Produced on Broadway by
James M. Nederlander, James L. Nederlander, and Watt/Dobie Productions
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