The kids are unplugged

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday; $12-$49. Main Street Theatre Works in the Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre, 1105 N. Main Street in Jackson; (209) 267-5680; Gates open at 6:30 p.m.; low-back lawn chairs and a sweater recommended. Through July 20.
Rated 4.0

Childhood in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is all fun and games, until someone gets killed, and even then, it’s not particularly graphic. Laura Eason’s adaptation of Mark Twain’s classic novel is an extremely nostalgic look at pre-electronics boyhood in the figure of Tom Sawyer (Colin Choate), a kid who’s all hijinks and hot air. Fortunately, he’s also got the charisma that will no doubt lead him to a successful career in politics.

Main Street Theatre Works produces it with rapid-fire action: Tom and his buddy Huck (Matthew Taul) witness the murder of the town doctor by Injun Joe (Ernesto Bustos), kicking off an eventful summer in which Tom romances Becky Thatcher (Carissa Meagher), torments his poor Aunt Polly (Erin Renfree), has adventures with his pals (Jonathan Tierney, Max Crisp and Emmanuel Jiminez) and eventually discovers treasure.

Add in a disrupted funeral, a disrupted trial and a scary cave sequence for an average American boyhood, with nary an afternoon lost to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

Choate is talented enough to carry the show, with plenty of help from the supporting cast. All the players—with the exception of Choate and Meagher—perform multiple roles well. Directed by Susan McCandless, the show never lags or gets “talky,” making it excellent for a younger audience.

Tom Sawyer is further enhanced by the natural beauty of the venue, a well-maintained amphitheater sheltered from the wind and equipped with all the modern amenities—including a concession stand with ice cream to enjoy during intermission. Nostalgia may be unrealistic, but there’s a lot to recommend it for a summer evening’s entertainment. Pack up the kids, and leave the Game Boys at home.