From Hal to Val and back
Helming, and co-producing with Ken Metz, thesp is billeted in the Masonic Lodge of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for a “workshop run” of “Citizen Twain,” his own monodrama subtitled “Mark Twain Saves America!” and adapted from the legendary social critic’s autobiography and other writings.
On Saturday night, a sellout crowd of 250 thronged the hall for the second of seven perfs in which a white-suited and bewhiskered Kilmer weighs in on the issues of our day by way of Twain’s own prose.
In a post-perf Q&A, Kilmer claimed, “I was looking for a story I could remain passionate about for years — an American story,” and in Twain he found “a life filled with tragedy, like America.”
Thesp also hints at personal parallels. “He had a perfect home, and I had a perfect home. He lost it, and so did I,” he added.
“Citizen Twain” runs here through Easter Sunday, after which Kilmer hopes to develop the piece in a nationwide tour in the manner of original Twain avatar Hal Holbrook, still donning the white wig and sporting the cigar at age 87. At a recent Northridge, Calif., rendition of “Mark Twain Tonight!,” Kilmer sought to gain the veteran’s blessing for the new endeavor.
“Have at it!” Kilmer reports Holbrook replying in trademarked Twain style, going on to growl, “Just don’t do my stuff.”