Versatile Val takes on Twain

Actor Kilmer, who has played various characters on the big screen, brings his one-man show to the Laguna Playhouse.

October 17, 2013|By Michael Miller
  • Val Kilmer performs in his one-man show "Citizen Twain" at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City on July 3.
Val Kilmer performs in his one-man show "Citizen… (Allen J. Schaben…)

Mark Twain is coming to the Laguna Playhouse this fall — and to the savvy viewer, he's bringing Jim Morrison, Doc Holliday and Batman with him.

The playhouse announced last week that Val Kilmer, who has a long track record of playing iconic characters on film, will bring his one-man show, "Citizen Twain" — during which he impersonates the "Huckleberry Finn" author — for a brief engagement from Nov. 21 to 24.

The show has played at several venues during the past three years, including the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City and the Pasadena Playhouse.

The Laguna production will mark its Orange County premiere. Playhouse artistic director Ann Wareham said she reached an agreement with Kilmer after visiting him backstage in Pasadena.

The actor's take on Twain, she said, may be definitive — even surpassing Hal Holbrook's long-running one-man show, "Mark Twain Tonight!", which debuted in 1954.


"Clearly, Mark Twain was extremely bright and a bit mischievous and highly energetic, but laconic at the same time," Wareham said. "We all know of Hal Holbrook's famous, brilliant Mark Twain performance, and those of us who saw it were just bowled over by that.

"But seeing Val do this character, you get the feeling this was probably closer to Mark Twain's real personality than anyone else who's portrayed him."

In addition to his roles as Morrison in "The Doors," Holliday in "Tombstone" and the title character in "Batman Forever," Kilmer has appeared in "Top Gun," "Thunderheart," "Willow" and dozens of other films. Recently, he provided a voice for the Disney animated feature "Planes."

"Twain" is currently only available to season playhouse subscribers, who will have first crack at buying tickets. The general public will be able to purchase tickets later this month. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21 and 22, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 23, and 2 p.m. Nov. 24. All seats are $65.

The addition of "Citizen Twain" is one of several changes the playhouse announced to its 2013-14 schedule. "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks," a comedy starring "Gigi" actress Leslie Caron, has been moved from November to the spring to accommodate Caron's schedule. The musical "A Christmas Memory," based on the Truman Capote short story, will take its place in the fall.

"The Year of Magical Thinking," an adaptation of Joan Didion's memoir, has been moved from April and May to the 2014-15 season.

More information can be found at

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