Home / Performing Arts / Life on the Mississippi: Don Shelby as Mark Twain

Life on the Mississippi: Don Shelby as Mark Twain

Shelby as TwainVeteran television newsman Don Shelby, known for his 30+ years of reporting in Minnesota, brings his portrayal of iconic wit Mark Twain to the Chalberg Theatre on Saturday, April 2. Presented as part of the Central Lakes Community Performing Arts Center’s Cultural Arts Series, the show begin at 7 p.m.

Twain is recognized as one of America’s greatest writers and humorists. His novels ‘Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Huckleberry Finn’ are mainstays of every student’s education in literature. His writings and musings on all different sorts of matters are marked by an incisive wit and a jocularity that is unmatched in the annals of American literature and journalism. It seems only fitting, then, that Don Shelby assumes the mantle of Twain in this one-man show.

Shelby is considered the most honored and decorated local television journalist in the country. He has won three national Emmys, the Columbia-duPont, the Scripps-Howard, the National Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, and has twice won the Pulitzer Prize of broadcasting: The George Foster Peabody. He was honored in 1983 with the top award for investigative reporting by the International Radio and Television News Directors Association. He has been awarded more than two-dozen regional top honors from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Associated Press and United Press International.

Shelby was inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2008, and television’s Silver Circle. He was named the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian of the Year, and was presented with the Great American Traditions Award from B’nai B’rith. In 2010 Don was named Distinguished Minnesotan, an honor he shares with such luminaries as Sigurd Olson and polar explorer Will Steger.

He has reported from locations spanning the globe. He has reported from Romania, Egypt, Iraq, Venezuela, Australia, and the Arctic Circle – to name a few. He originated the I-Team concept in 1980, and developed Project Energy in 2005. He reported nationally on the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and from the scene of the terrorist attack in Oklahoma City.

In 2010 Shelby reported on the war in Iraq from Contingency Operating Base Basra, Iraq embedded with the 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division of the Minnesota National Guard which was in operational command of the southern half of that country. Upon completion of the assignment, the Minnesota Adjutant General, Major General Richard Nash, called Shelby, “Our Ernie Pyle,” referring to the famous World War II reporter.

Since his retirement, Shelby continues his work in environmental journalism, reporting for MinnPost, the on-line daily, and is a member of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team roundtable. He currently serves on the board of The Mississippi River Connection, formerly the Mississippi River Fund, VocalEssence, The Audubon Center of the Northwoods, The Will Steger Foundation Advisory Board, and the Minnesota Adjutant General’s Senior Advisory Task Force, among others.

With all of his work telling the stories of people around the world, Shelby is a natural fit for telling the stories of Twain. Shelby brings his own storytelling sensibilities along with a dry wit and droll delivery that really bring the writings of Twain alive. The performance will include an after-show talkback session, during which time Shelby removes the prosthetic makeup necessary to impersonate Twain while talking about the show, its creation, and other topics of interest to the audience.

Shelby wishes the audience to know, “Despite appearances, no tobacco products are used in tonight’s production.” Twain was a notorious consumer of cigars, but all cigars used in the production are electronic and emit water vapor only.

It should also be noted that this performance has a curtain time of 7 p.m. in order to more easily accommodate the after-show talkback session.

Tickets for Don Shelby as Mark Twain in ‘Life on the Mississippi’ can be purchased at the CLC Box Office at 855-8199, or online at www.clcmn.edu/arts

This performance is sponsored in part by the generous contribution of LaVonne Danzl.




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