HANNIBAL | Richard Garey will open his 18th season as Mark Twain Himself for both Hannibal residents and tourists in his Planters Barn Theater, 319 N. Main St., on June 5.
In June the shows are scheduled at 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The schedule will change in July, with shows scheduled at 5 p.m. from Wednesday through Saturday.
For ticket information, including Marion County and Adams County discounts, see www.heritage.com or call 573-231-0021.
Under the COVID-19 pandemic rules, he explained, “I can't have as many people” attending the shows.
Also, “We will requires masks and give them masks if they don't have one.
“I'm looking forward to getting back,” Garey said. “It's very unusual for me to go this long without doing shows. I enjoy it very much.
“We don't know at this point how many people we are going to have,” Garey said. “It's a new ball game. We have changed the seating in the theater. There will be some distancing with the seating and no one on the front row. To perform I won't be able to wear a mask, so we will move people back from that area.”
Garey's Mark Twain shows are all presented in Twain's words.
During Twain's travels, he himself experienced a cholera pandemic, Garey said, explaining that when Twain arrived in Italy, “basically the country was shut down. It was very, very bad.
“They were on a trip to Europe and the Holy Land. He (Twain) got back on board the ship and sailed. He did not get sick in Italy, but he got sick in Damascus. He said he got sick and thought he was going to die before he finally recovered.”
Garey noted that Twain's trip “was the first American cruise ever that went from New York to the Mediterranean and took excursions to Paris, Italy and up the Nile River and to the Holy Land and Greece.” Twain's first book, “Innocents Abroad,” was based on that trip.
“All kinds of diseases went through before we had vaccines,” Garey said. “It (cholera) went through the United States several times. What people remember most is the 1918 flu. It was the most recent. But we had several outbreaks.”
Garey believes that “one reason this (COVID-19) has had such an impact is we thought we were beyond it, and medical science had advanced so much. It was shocking it can have such an impact.”
The pandemic also cancelled Garey's traveling season this year, he said. “I travel all over the country and have done this show in 46 of the 50 states. I've been traveling with the show for many years. All of that was cancelled,” along with his schedule of performing on riverboat cruises.”
His wife, Patricia, teaches art on the cruises, and teaches art in their local theater, which includes her art gallery and studio.