Actor Dave Ehlert said he shares the home state of the American literary giant he's impersonated for the last five years - Mark Twain.
Ehlert played famous author at Brenau University's Thurmond-McRae Lecture Hall to a crowd of more than 90 people Thursday evening in a show dubbed "Mark Twain 100 Years Later."
Ehlert said he lives about five hours from Twain's home town of Florida, Mo. But he admits, "I'm originally from Illinois."
Personifying Twain appeared to come naturally to Ehlert as he produced the author's gravelly twang and quick wit.
Ehlert strode on stage with Twain's signature mustache and white suit. The one-man show mixed Twain's famous quotes, lectures, and better known stories such as "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." He also shared Twain's thoughts on telling lies.
"I don't exaggerate, I just remember big," Ehlert said.
Another focus of the show was the inspiration behind Twain's books. Ehlert explained that Tom Sawyer was modelled after Twain as a child, and the supporting role of Huckleberry Finn was based on Twain's boyhood friend Tom Blankenship.
"Mark Twain was humorous, witty poignant - he had quite life," said Virginia Hale, president of the Friends of the Hall County Library.
Drew Jackson, who came with a group from Buford, said he decided to brave the icy conditions Thursday night to see the show.
"I read all his stuff growing up as a kid but I haven't read it since. I'm looking forward to filling in all the holes," Jackson said.
Audience member Marie Fraley agreed.
"I'm excited to be entertained," she said.
The Friends group and Brenau University's Learning and Leisure Institute co-sponsored the free event Thursday.
Hale said the show was a thank you to the community for their support and it was also a chance to promote the national bestseller, "Autobiography of Mark Twain."
"Many people haven't read it yet because it's hard to find in stores," Hale said.
During the intermission, the group raffled off free copies of the book, normally priced at $35.
Hale said organizers invited Ehlert to perform at Brenau after they heard he would be travelling to the area at this time.
The full-time actor has performed the impersonation in more than 30 states in the last five years.
He also does impressions of nearly 25 musicians during a show in Branson, Mo. He started by performing as Elvis in 1967, for what became one of the longest running Elvis tribute shows in the world.
Ehlert said he was "drafted" into the role of Mark Twain in 2004, when the scheduled performer was unable to make it. "It was scary at first because I wasn't prepared. Now I feel like I am," he said.
Hale said she enjoyed Ehlert's interpretation of Twain, and hoped the audience felt the same.
"I hope they reacquainted themselves with Twain's witticism and good sense and think of the library and Friends of the Hall County Library as a force that makes a difference in the community," Hale said.