CCC Foundation Presents Mark Twain!

November 10th, 2014 Posted in Foundation News & Events

IMG_0025The Cayuga Community College Foundation presented national touring actor Kurt H. Sutton in “Mark Twain and Mr. Clemens, Tonight.” Audiences at the Irene A. Bisgrove Community Theatre, Auburn (October 15) and the Fulton Education Center (October 9) were transported back the turn of the 20th Century by Sutton’s charm, wit and musical talents.

The setting was Samuel Clemens’ parlor in Hartford, CT, circa 1890. After a musical introduction, Sutton appeared out of the dark in Twain’s signature white suit. Throughout Act One, Sutton/Clemens shared famous stories from Twain’s writing, including “Grandfather’s Old Ram” and other stories from Twain’s early life during the California Gold Rush. His selections were highlighted by stories featuring Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher and other familiar characters from Huckleberry Finn.

IMG_0026In Act Two, Sutton/Clemens pulled out his banjo and delighted the audiences with classic American songs and spirituals. He closed the program with “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” the favorite hymn of Twain’s beloved wife Livy.

Following the final ovation, Sutton returned to the stage for question-and-answer sessions that lasted over half an hour. “As a former college professor, I began this by researching Samuel Clemens. I read every biography along with all of the ‘standard’ writings by Mark Twain,” he said. “I felt I needed to get to know Clemens the man, before delving into the characters that Twain brought to life.” Sutton noted that the stories in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn were drawn from Clemens’ childhood on the Mississippi and were all true, “or at least, true to Mr. Clemens’ memory.” He also spoke about the fact that Huckleberry Finn is still the most censored book in American literary history. “It was banned when it was first printed, and to this day there are libraries across the country that refuse to carry a copy.”

IMG_0027Sutton closed the evening with an ode to American veterans. Growing up in Manheim, Germany during WW II, he remembered the Allied attacks on the city and joked that his singing “is my revenge for all the bombs you dropped!” He asked all service members in attendance to stand while leading the audience in a rendition of God Bless America.

“The CCC Foundation was excited to bring Kurt Sutton to the Fulton and Auburn communities,” said Jeff Hoffman, executive director. “Kurt delivers his distinctive interpretation of Mark Twain to colleges and community theaters across the country. He goes far beyond entertainment, to truly educate his audiences. It was a perfect fit for a college setting.”

Admission at both showing was presented free, courtesy of the Noreen and Michael J. Falcone Lecture Fund at the CCC Foundation.

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