Mark Twain is coming to Jacksonville, but not for the first time. America’s favorite author visited Jacksonville in the late 1800s as a part of lecture tour following the publication of his book, “Innocents Abroad.” Local accounts tell of Twain’s appearance at the local opera house and that he played pool in a nearby Jacksonville hotel that evening. And on Saturday night, November 19, the famous native of Hannibal, Missouri, will once again perform on the Jacksonville Square just blocks away from his first appearance as the Playhouse on the Square presents “An Evening with Mark Twain,” with special guests Jeff and Teresa Davidsmeyer, plus Ben Cordes.
According to Ken Bradbury, “I’ve seen many Mark Twain impersonators, but this guy is the best.” Like Twain, Bob Anton of Peoria began his career as the captain of a paddle-wheeler riverboat. “Bob is authentic,” said Bradbury. “He’s a part of our entertainment crew at Starved Rock State Park, and I’ve probably watched him perform 50 times. I never tire of his Twain.”
The country has many Mark Twain interpreters, but Anton is unique in that his Mark Twain presentation contains nothing but the actual words of the world-renowned author. “That’s what I like about him,” said Bradbury. “He doesn’t paraphrase Twain, he doesn’t try to update him. Every word out of Bob’s mouth came from the pen of Samuel Clemens.” Bradbury also notes that Anton’s resemblance to the real Mark Twain borders on the eerie. “When he was captain of the Peoria riverboat the boat’s owner said, ‘Bob, you look more like Mark Twain than Mark Twain did!’ So, Bob started working on his act.”
The evening’s first act will be three of the area’s favorite musical performers, Jeff and Teresa Davidsmeyer and their special guest, Ben Cordes. The Davidsmeyers have performed in a wide range of venues and will be remembered as founding members of The New Goat Ensemble.
Tickets are $10 for the evening and may be purchased at Our Town Books on the Jacksonville Square or by calling 217-491-3977. To reserve tickets by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.