‘River’ makes big splash

Roundabout to import the show from L.A.

All’s well that begins well.

The 2003-04 Broadway season kicked off in high fashion Thursday with the Roundabout’s revival of “Big River.” The rave reviews rolled in the following day, too late to bring out the usual panoply of celeb actors and uber agents that populate these opening nights. Their loss.

Roundabout imported the show from L.A.’s Deaf West Theater, which broke legit ground by double-casting roles with vocal and deaf actors. Speaking through a sign interpreter at the Laura Belle party, Deaf West’s Ed Waterstreet said the theater company expects to adapt “Cyrano de Bergerac” next. “We considered ‘Gypsy,’ but the rights were taken then,” he said. Waterstreet looks forward to doing the Rostand classic with a deaf Cyrano, a hard-of-hearing Roxanne and a vocal Christian. “I think the balcony scene will be very interesting,” Waterstreet said.

The “Big River” revival marked the Broadway return of Phyllis Frelich. She starred in “Children of a Lesser God” 23 years ago. Has a Tony-winning actress ever had to wait so long between engagements on the Great White Way?

The actress smiled to reveal through a sign interpreter, “I always knew the odds were against it.”

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