Inside the historic Muckenthaller Mansion in Fullerton an audience of 150 spectators was taken back in time for one night to witness Mark Twain displaying the art of storytelling at its best on Thursday.
The event, titled “Mark Twain in Person” showcased the talents of actor Joe Musil, who took on the persona of Twain. With pillowy white hair and mustache, and three piece suit to match, Musil looked every bit the part sharing stories about Twain’s life and times.
Using 19th century vernacular and a shaky southern drawl, Musil, in his Twain persona spoke on things that shaped him as a humorist and writer. His vivid prose and quick witted brand of satirical humor filled the gallery with laughter as he discussed his travels from the tiny town of Hannibal, Missouri all across the world and the many jobs and relationships he forged along the way.
In order to capture Twain’s character, style of prose and mannerisms, Musil spent months preparing for the roll.
“There is no room to veer from the rhythm he used, you really have to get down all the words as he wrote,” Musil explained.
Writer and director John Lynd specializes in creating one man shows with the goal to not only entertain, but educate. His vision, is to bring to life important historical figures like Twain to supplement kids education through the arts.
Lynd is passionate about writing and directing because it gave him an outlet that he excelled at in school.
“I wasn’t a mathematical mind, I certainly wasn’t an athlete. If I hadn’t found the arts I don’t know where I would be,” he said.
Because the arts helped him growing up, Lynd loves bringing the productions into schools. He feels that it is important for kids to be taught more than what is just in the history books at school and he is happy to be able to help.
“I want to make it audience friendly. It’s tangible, they are right there in your face. I would have loved that when I was in school. All we get in school are a couple pages or a paragraph,” Lynd said. “If there is anything I can do to help move kids ahead by making this guy alive for them for an evening, I am happy.”
As much as Lynd and Musil put together an educational and accurate portrayal, they succeeded in making sure entertainment was not lost on this night. At the conclusion of the show, the audience gave a standing ovation for the performance.
Lynd’s next production is going to be Teddy Roosevelt in June at the Rialto Playhouse. He is also planning on doing a show on Vincent VanGogh before the end of the year.