"He's a humanist," Tracy said. "He says plain old things that people think, 'Oh yeah, I think that, too, but I never thought to say it.'"
Tracy has taken Twain's dispatches from
TWAIN, WHOSE birth name was
His visit included a long stay on
His stories include a moving description of the funeral of Princess Victoria Kamamalu, sister of the Hawaiian kings Kamehameha IV and Kamehameha V, as well as descriptions of a man eating poi that his mainland readers would have found both disgusting and hilarious, but in this day and age would probably have been considered humorous while also somewhat offensive.
Tracy integrates much of the original writing in his show, taking care to "remain true to Mr. Twain's sense of humor."
"There are sections where he talks about watching nude natives, young girls, swimming, and he goes down to watch them," Tracy said, "and there's a wonderful little section when he describes surfers and how excited he was to watch people surfing and his attempt and failure to surf. ... They're pretty comic moments."
Tracy has also revised the show after reading some previously unpublished letters and notes. They were released in 2010 and are considered Twain's autobiography.
All that study into one of America's leading literary figures has given Tracy a deep insight into Twain.
"He was a tortured soul, as most everybody who is funny is," Tracy said. "He had a really up-and-down, roller-coaster life. He was always trying get-rich schemes, and they mostly always failed."
Though Twain's visit came just a year after his initial brush with literary fame -- via his short story "The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" -- his moods were mercurial.
"He was full of spunk," Tracy said. "He was still developing, but it was around that time that he considered suicide, too."
In the show, Tracy, 65, portrays Twain at age 75 reminiscing about his visit here. He'll wear the classic white linen suit and bow tie, similar to what the author often wore in public appearances.
In conversation, Tracy falls easily into the drawl that the
"There are many descriptions of his voice," Tracy said. "One lady thought the way he rode on the horse -- slouchy -- and the way he drawled his words, that he was drunk. That was a common comment, that people thought he was drunk, because he had no inhibitions. He would gesticulate wildly, and people thought, 'Oh my gosh.'
"I really approached (the role) with great fear and trepidation in the early years, but with great respect. But now I feel like I'm sort of channeling the old curmudgeon. I feel that he's OK with it."
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