Friends of Woodlawn Cemetery Present “Close to Clemens” at the Park Church

Friends of Woodlawn present ‘Close to Clemensmonologues, Stephen Foster music

Eight friends and family members of Samuel Clemens who are buried close to the famous author in Elmira’s Woodlawn Cemetery will be “resurrected” on Sunday, March 26, to tell their stories.

They will appear in a program entitled “Close to Clemens” at The Park Church, 211 Gray Street, Elmira, beginning at 3:00 p.m.

The presentation will include monologues interspersed with music by Stephen Foster, a Clemens contemporary with strong ties to the Twin Tiers.

Returning family members are Sam’s beloved wife, Olivia Langdon Clemens (Sheila Reed); father-in-law, Jervis Langdon (James Hare), a well-to-do abolitionist; and sister-in-law, Susan Langdon Crane (Margaret Kasper Reed), who had the iconic octagonal study built for the author at Quarry Farm.

Among Clemens’ Elmira friends and acquaintances who will materialize for the occasion: Julia Beecher (Jenny Monroe), wife of The Rev. Thomas Beecher, pastor of The Park Church; Zebulon Brockway (James Wellington), prison reformer who invited Clemens to preview his lectures at Elmira Reformatory; Mary Ann Cord (Vicie Rolling), the black cook who told Sam a chilling – and miraculous – tale of her slave days; Charles Klapproth (Irving Cook), proprietor of the famed Klapproth Cafe, where Sam frequently lifted a few; and Frank Tripp (Rob Lavarnway), cub reporter at the Elmira Advertiser, who became a celebrated journalist.

Songs of composer Stephen Foster will be presented by Danielle Murray, soprano; Franc Laux, tenor; Peter Durbin, banjo and vocals; Anita Pawlak, oboe; and Larry Hoey, piano. Also performing will be a quartet from The Cantata Singers: Jessica Fiero, Jean Papandrea, Gary Tucker, and Raymond Bulkley.

“Close to Clemens” is a presentation of The Friends of Woodlawn Cemetery, with the collaboration of The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies, The Chemung Country Historical Society, and Elmira Little Theater.

Funding is provided in part by a grant from the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and The Southern Tier, with a special contribution from the late C. JoAnne Lublin, to whose memory this program is dedicated.

Tickets are not required. A free will offering will be taken.