Sutton will present “An Evening with Mark Twain” on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the historic downtown theater.
The former Canton resident and Cherokee High School graduate is also looking forward to a reunion with his fellow classmates who graduated in 1962, 1963 and 1964 afterward at the Fork and Tavern Restaurant across the street from the theatre.
“It has been five years, and it’s time to remind the folks that Mark Twain is still alive and witty as ever,” Sutton said of his performance in Canton.
He also said he is looking forward to seeing old friends and everyone is invited to the meet and greet.
“We’ll get together after the show, with the class of ’63 which I graduated with, and the class ’62 which I was supposed to graduate with, and the class of ’64 which I nearly graduated with and the great eighth-grade class across the street at the Fork and Tavern,” he said.
Sutton said in his earlier days he often went to the theatre to see movies and live entertainment.
“When I was growing up, I saw Officer Don and ‘House on Haunted Hill’ at the theater,” Sutton said. “I remember thinking how large the theatre seemed at the time. When I revisited it a few weeks ago, I was surprised how much the building had shrunk.”
Sutton said of his old friends that several classes from Cherokee High School will be represented in the audience. “I look forward to doing a show for a friendly crowd. Although that might be too optimistic,” he said.
While Sutton said he is anticipating seeing old friends: “It is there that the excitement of being back will be at its highest, along with the natural trepidation of not being able to recognize friends that have gotten old during the last 50 years.”
Sutton’s play and his depiction of Clemens and Twain at the same time are unique and provide a great deal of variety that reflects Clemens the man accurately, the actor said.
His study of and love for Mark Twain’s works go back to his college days.
In addition to his one-man show that has proved popular with those who experience it, Sutton has also entertained audiences on the theatrical and music stage for 20 years.
He performed in the movie “Go Tell It On The Mountain” featuring Paul Winfield and “Night Shadows” featuring Wings Hauser.
He has toured and performed Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens for six years in theatres and events throughout the United States.
“The play presents Mark Twain telling the hilarious and witty stories for which he is famous, with Clemens offering asides and comments of a personal nature,” Sutton said in a release. “So the audience is enchanted by the specter of the transition from the man to the character, and back again, a transition made smoothly and without pause.”
Sutton also uses his musical talent to enhance the evening of entertainment for the audience.
According to Sutton, it is not widely know that Clemens was a good musician, playing piano, guitar, banjo and harmonica accompanied by a good tenor voice.
Sutton said he incorporates the authentic music Clemens would have played, which is now traditional music, known by all.
The audience can sing along, making the play interactive, with standards, like “Bicycle Built for Two.”
Sutton was born in Mannheim, Germany, and immigrated to the United States in 1950. Growing up in Canton, he graduated from Cherokee High School, Reinhardt College and the University of Georgia.
He attended Western Carolina University where he received his master’s degree in education administration in 1971. He taught classes at Western Carolina University. Later he taught and coached at Canton Elementary School, then moved to Marietta where he taught social sciences and coached football and wrestling at Sprayberry High School.
He played music professionally for 10 years in a band called “Southern Justice” touring the country and opening shows for Waylon Jennings, Barbara Mandrell and Mel Tillis.
In 1983, he became Marketing Manager for Lake Lanier Islands, leading him to open his own marketing company, Sutton & Associates. He then introduced his years of coaching and training into his business and began training company’s staff in sales, customer service, and management as a business consultant.
For those attending Saturday night, they can look forward to hearing Mark Twain telling a story from his book “Roughing It” about a buffalo hunt and finished with Clemens singing “Buffalo Gal.”
Other portions of the evening will include a story from “Life on the Mississippi” about Clemens becoming a riverboat pilot on the mighty Mississippi River Valley ending with “Down in the Valley.”
The second act gives a nod to Clemens’ serious side with some bits about Tom Sawyer and a dramatic rendition of Huck Finn’s trip down the Mississippi with Jim, the runaway slave. This segment contains several characters all played by Sutton as the story moves down the river to a dramatic climax.
Tickets are $12 for general public and $8 for seniors older than 65 and students. Tickets are available at the Canton Theatre box office, or for advance tickets call (770) 841-5330. There is no reserved seating.