Mark Twain Live!, starring Mike Randall, makes a much anticipated return to the Opera House on Friday in a one-man show that brings America's greatest author and humorist to life. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m.
Mike Randall began impersonating Mark Twain at the age of 17. Two years later, he was performing professionally as Twain at the Buffalo Showboat. At age 20, he performed for the State Department in Washington, D.C., in the same theatre that John F. Kennedy used to give his State of the Union address. One year later, Randall brought his rendition to New York City's Little Hippodrome.
Randall is the only Mark Twain impersonator to be formally acknowledged by the Daughters of the American Revolution for his authenticity and the only Mark Twain actor to be a member of the prestigious National Speakers Association. Mark Twain Live! is endorsed by the Mark Twain Museum of Buffalo; and Randall is the "official Mark Twain" of the Huck Finn Jubilee in Victorville, Calif., and the Annual Mark Twain Birthday Bash & Symposium, in Buffalo.
Mike Randall appears in Mark Twain Live! at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House on Friday at 7:30 p.m. In more than 40 years of “being” Mark Twain, Randall has given more than 2,000 performances. To transform himself into the 70-year-old Twain, the 59-year-old Randall spends more than three hours at the make-up table.
"This will be a very entertaining evening at the Opera House," notes Opera House Executive Director Rick Davis. "Mike Randall loves to perform Mark Twain Live! here because of the connection Twain had with Fredonia." As many locals know, Twain was fond of Fredonia and was a frequent visitor because his mother and sister lived here during the late 1800s. Having first seen Fredonia in 1870 while on a lecture tour, Twain, then editor of the Buffalo Express, married Olivia Langdon, of Elmira, a few weeks later and returned to the village often.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens had many occupations in his lifetime. In addition to newspaper editor and reporter, he spent time as a river boat pilot, a gold miner and of course, as an author (although not always a successful one). But where he really shined was as a speaker on the stage. Clemens hit the stage with his first lecture tour even before his pen name, Mark Twain, had become a household word. Eventually, he grew into one of the funniest and most sought-after speakers of his day. Several lecture tours and hundreds of speaking engagements helped the humorist refine his storytelling skills into a fine art.
In more than 40 years of "being" Mark Twain, Randall has given more than 2,000 performances. To transform himself into the 70-year-old Twain, the 59-year-old Randall spends more than three hours at the make-up table.
Critics and audiences nationwide agree that Randall in Mark Twain Live! is a delightful experience. "Move over Hal Holbrook, Mike Randall is here ... one of the most remarkable evenings of entertainment to be experienced," notes the Washington News.
When "Twain" walks onstage, the audience is in for a rare treat two hours of folksy, wise-cracking wit and wisdom in Twain's own words. Randall as Mark Twain points his irreverent finger of humor at everything from politics to religion, making it clear why some have called Twain "America's original stand-up comic."
Tickets for Mark Twain Live! are $15 ($13 for Opera House members) and may be purchased in person at the Opera House Box Office or by phone at 679-1891, Tuesday-Friday, 1-5 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online anytime at www.fredopera.org. Mark Twain Live! is supported with funds from the United Arts Appeal of Chautauqua County.
The 1891 Fredonia Opera House is a member-supported not-for-profit organization located in Village Hall in downtown Fredonia. A complete schedule of Opera House events is available at www.fredopera.org.