Hal Holbrook ’42 has had a prolific career in theater, film, and television. But the one role that he created and has played since 1954 has become his trademark: Mark Twain. Holbrook is now celebrating 60 years of touring with his award-winning one-man show, Mark Twain Tonight, in which he portrays America’s best-known writer and satirist. Holbrook has performed the show in all 50 states, internationally, on television, Broadway, and behind the Iron Curtin.
He has been back to the Culver Academies campus on several occasions – including his 2004 induction into the Arts & Letters Hall of Fame, but his only performance of Mark Twain Tonight came in 1962. On Sept. 3-5, Holbrook returned and performed Mark Twain Tonight to kick off the 2014-15 Huffington Concert Series.
Wednesday, theatre students watched a special showing of Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey, a documentary directed by Scott Teems. The film takes viewers behind the scenes with Holbrook for an intimate look at Twain’s continuing influence on American culture and the actor who portrays him. Following the movie, Holbrook talked with students, asked questions of them, and answered theirs.
Thursday night he performed Mark Twain Tonight in front of packed house. After his performance, Holbrook came back on stage, took his bows during a standing ovation, and exited. Then the CMA cadets spontaneously started to sing The Culver Song. Members of CGA quickly joined in and all the students cheered at the conclusion. The rush that washed over the audience is best described as simply a classic “Culver Moment.”