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MR MARK TWAIN A stage musical biography of Mark Twain. Book by Jane Iredale; music and lyrics by William P. Perry. Performed Elmira, NY and Hartford, CT (1987-1995) SYNOPSIS Act One Mark Twain in his mid-30’s arrives at Quarry Farm, his summer home in Elmira, New York. He greets the audience and begins to recount how he came to be in Elmira, far from his Missouri beginnings. As he talks about the past, two characters from his book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, appear – Aunt Polly leading the very same Tom Sawyer by the ear. Twain admits to a certain similarity between himself and the recalcitrant Tom. He watches with amusement as Tom, doomed to white-washing Aunt Polly’s fence, inveigles his pals into performing the task for him. They have entered, teasing Tom with the song, We’re Goin’ Fishin’, and they exit with a victorious Tom singing along with them. Twain explains that his joyous boyhood was over when his father died and he had to make a living. After a period as a printer’s apprentice, he ran away to become a pilot on the Mississippi River. We see the young Mark Twain, known then as Samuel Langhorne Clemens, express his excitement at the prospect of his life on a steamboat as he sings A Pilot on the Mississippi. The Civil War brought an abrupt end to Twain’s career on the river, and for a brief period he joined the Confederate militia. But he soon headed West, propelled by fatigue brought on by “constant retreating” and his dislike of killing. It was here that he became a newspaper reporter and was sent by his paper, the Alta California, to cover the first American pleasure tour abroad. His arrival on French soil inspires the song, Welcome to Paris. Then he and his traveling companion, Charlie Langdon, are taken to the sensation of the day – a Paris nightclub where they watch and take part in The Can-Can. While at the club, Charlie shows Twain a miniature portrait of his sister, Olivia, known as Livy. Twain immediately falls in love. On his return to America, he writes a hugely-successful book about his travels which he calls The Innocents Abroad, and then he sets about courtship in earnest. Livy proves to be an elusive target. She resists his advances even though he regales her with stories of his past adventures, including his colorful years as a miner in the West. Even the boisterous singing and dancing of Roughing It fails to move her. But gradually she succumbs, and when we return to present time, Twain is married with three daughters and is blissfully happy. He also has built a picturesque and expensive new home at Nook Farm in Hartford, next door to Harriet Beecher Stowe. The house sits on a small hill below which is a pond which freezes over in the winter and inspires Twain to compose verses for The Skating Madrigal. Much of Twain’s life in Hartford is spent in socializing and entertaining. But in the summers, he concentrates on his writing at Quarry Farm, and one of his greatest joys is to gather his family in the evening on the porch and share with them the pages he has written during the day. On this evening, he reads them the first chapters of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The family is entranced as the scene literally comes alive in front of them. It ends with Jim and Huck floating off down the river on their raft while Jim sings of the freedom he knows will be his in I Know There’s a Place. But Twain’s happiness disappears when his financial world is ruined by his own reckless investments, and he is forced to move his family abroad to save on expenses. He leaves his favorite daughter, Susy, behind so she can enter college. The Act closes with Susy wistfully waving her beloved family goodbye as she sings The House on the Hill, and their carriage pulls off.