Laughing’s one of my favorite things, and I ended up doing it quite a bit tonight as I watched Mark Twain: Unplugged at Act II Playhouse in Ambler. That’s why my post is going up later in the day ~ I knew I was headed to the theater and thought I’d write about it.

Mark Twain (photo: Act II)

Mark Twain (photo: Act II)

I knew many of Twain’s quips and a lot about his life. I learned more when I interviewed the playwright, who’s also the actor portraying him (read that here: Malvern’s Tom Teti is Mark Twain at Act II). But it was neat to see it as if Twain stood before me, telling his story, reading his stories, and making me laugh in real life instead of through the squiggly lines on the pages of his books. He even broke the fourth wall and spoke to and interacted with the audience. I love being a part of the show.

It was delightful (as my theater companion said), but really short. That’s the sign it was good, though ~ the show was only 70 minutes, and I wanted more.

My favorite part was when Twain read from Huckleberry Finn, adding drama to a scene between Huck and Jim, using dialects for both. So well-done, I was on the raft with the two. The show had its poignant moments.

It was a lot like who I envision Twain to be ~ funny, clever (different things, those), serious, silly, sentimental without being sappy. A most pleasant venture into the world of one of my favorite authors through one of my favorite forms of art.

The best part, though, happened as the show was ending. A train whistle sounded and Twain said he had to run to catch the slow ride. On the way up the aisle, he caught sight of a little boy watching the show (with his dad or grandpop who brought him). Twain stopped mid-run, reached out to the boy, and shook his hand. Then he was on his way again out the door.

My thoughts when Twain did that traveled back in time to me sitting in the balcony, at about that kid’s age, watching Annie. Seeing girls my age singing and dancing, seeing a story with awesome music happening right in front of me, changed me forever. It started my lifelong love affair with theater. If I had met Annie or shook her hand, my mind would have been blown.

The boy, the youngest person there, seemed to be watching intently the whole time. I hope he remembers that Mark Twain stopped special to meet him. I hope he enjoyed the show, the frog faces, the silly dancing, the great storytelling. And I hope that he gets hooked on theater the way I did, because there’s truly nothing like it: the energy, the immediacy, the interaction (whether it’s direct or just as an audience member participating by being there), the drama of the words, the beauty of the songs (in musicals), the moments when everything connects and something magical happens. It’s one of the best things there is.

Any emotion, if it is sincere, is involuntary.
Mark Twain

Yep. And I *heart* theater.