Even though Hal Holbrook has been performing his one-man show "Mark Twain Tonight!" for 58 years, he is still amazed at how relevant Twain's words remain.
Though the humorist died in 1910, his commentary on politics and social issues of the day still hit the mark.
Holbrook recently added a Twain quote to his show referring to lobbyists as the "invisible government" in Washington with headquarters on Wall Street that could have been written today.
"What was going on in the 1870s-1890s is the whole map of what is going on now," Holbrook said in a recent interview. "It is the germination, it is the beginning of the great corporations in this country producing multimillionaires who then exert their influence on Washington through the lobbyists, where they end up running the country."
Holbrook, 87, returns to the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto on Oct. 5 to perform "Mark Twain Tonight!" He last performed the show at the venue in 2009, but audiences shouldn't expect an identical experience this time. Holbrook constantly changes his material, adding and deleting commentary to fit current events.
Holbrook and his first wife, Ruby, began performing a show featuring characters ranging from Shakespeare to Twain. By 1954, Holbrook began performing the solo show just focusing on Twain. The show gained national fame when Ed Sullivan invited Holbrook to perform on his television program. The show ultimately moved to Broadway in 1966.
Holbrook since has performed the production all over the world, while continuing a vibrant acting career with performances in movies and TV shows. He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the 2007 movie "Into the Wild" directed by Sean Penn. He recently appeared in the film "Water for Elephants."
WHAT: 'Mark Twain Tonight!'
WHEN: 8 p.m. Oct. 5; 6:30 p.m. pre-show lecture by UC Merced literature professor Gregg Camfield
WHERE: Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto.
TICKETS: $19-$69 show; $10 for pre-show lecture
CALL: (209) 338-2100