Blizzard Brings Actor to Stage, Twain to Life

Article excerpt

Two decades ago a familiar side effect of winter weather changed the course of actor McAvoy Layne's life.

Layne, who will appear as the famous and controversial American author, Mark Twain, this weekend in Collinsville, encountered the subject which has been the focus of his life's work while holed up during a blizzard, in Lake Tahoe, Nev.

"In fact, I'm in Tahoe now," said the actor during a recent telephone conversation. "And it's interesting to look out the window, because it is really coming down.

"Twenty years ago I was snowbound here for five days," Layne continued. "I got cabin fever. And of course your brain gets a little mushy when you're in that state. As a consequence, when I picked up a book from the coffee table, called `The Complete Essays of Mark Twain,' the seed was planted."

Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Langhorn Clemens (1835-1910), who came of age in the Mississippi River community of Hannibal. The people he knew, and his experiences there, influenced Clemens to write his two most famous novels, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1876) and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1884). …