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The Royal Alexandra Theatre to Dim Lights in Honor of Actor Hal Holbrook

The tribute will take place Friday, February 5 At 8 PM.

The Royal Alexandra Theatre to Dim Lights in Honor of Actor Hal Holbrook

Hal Holbrook, the stage and film actor who is best known for playing Mark Twain in a solo stage production, died on January 23 at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 95.

Holbrook called his show Mark Twain Tonight! He began researching his subject in 1947, but it wasn't until 1954 that he first performed the final version of the show. He was 29 at the time and portrayed Twain as he imagined him to be at 70. In preparing his show, he read Twain's work, including all the lectures he was famous for giving all over the world. He even sought and interviewed people who claimed to have attended Twain's lectures (Twain died in 1910).

The show was immediately successful from its very first performance. He would go on to tour the world with it, winning many accolades, including a Tony Award. He finally retired the show in 2017 after more than 2,000 performances.

Mark Twain Tonight! played Toronto twice - in 1960 and again in 1967, both times at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. It was as popular here as it was everywhere else it played.

David Mirvish was a teenager when he first saw the show in 1960.
"I was completely captivated by the show," he recalls. "I didn't know who Hal Holbrook was. I was convinced it was Mark Twain himself I was seeing. My family was not involved in theatre at the time. My father was still just Honest Ed, the bargain storekeeper. After he bought and restored the Royal Alex, he knew he had to get Mr. Holbrook back to Toronto to reprise his show. That happened in 1967. Again, it was an amazing and singular theatrical experience."

To honour and celebrate Hal Holbrook, the marquee lights of the Royal Alexandra Theatre will be dimmed on Friday, February 5 at the traditional show starting time 8 PM.

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