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Bill Oberst Jr. to bring Grizzard to the Mars stage — again


July 26, 2017

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Actor Bill Oberst Jr. has stepped into the late Lewis Grizzard's shoes more than 1,000 times in the last decade. Oberst's portrayal of the Southern writer and humorist is a one-man show authorized by Grizzard's family, which says it is the closest thing to seeing the late great spokesman of the south onstage again since Grizzard's death.  
"Lewis Grizzard: In His Own Words" will be presented at the Mars Theatre on August 26.  Doors open at 6 p.m. with the performance starting at 7 p.m.  Downstairs tickets are $20 and balcony seats are $15.  Tickets can be purchased online at marstheatre.com or by calling (912) 754-7617.  The show is presented in two acts and runs 90 minutes.
Grizzard’s widow Dedra still remembers the moment she first saw Oberst as her late husband.
“When he looked down over those glasses and the audience laughed, it really was like seeing a ghost,” she said. 
Yet Mrs. Grizzard was skeptical. A tribute show with an actor playing Mr. Grizzard had not been her idea, but hers was the final word. 
“After the show so many people came up and thanked me. So, I decided that maybe we could do this in a way that honored Lewis’ memory, which was the most important thing to me. I told Bill ‘Let’s just try it and see what happens.'” 
More than 1,200 performances later, the show is still going strong.
The two-act performance features Grizzard’s best-loved stories and jokes, along with some poignant and funny readings from his books and newspaper columns. Grizzard was the most widely syndicated columnist in America for 15 years until his death at age 47, appearing in 450 daily newspapers. He famously refused to use a computer and wrote on a manual typewriter, saying, “I like to by-God hear some noise when I type.”  Grizzard wrote early each morning at his Atlanta breakfast table, agonizing over each word and going through countless drafts and cigarettes before calling his secretary at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to dictate the finished result. He once turned in an entire manuscript to Random House written entirely with the letter "e" in it because his ancient Royal typewriter’s "e" key had snapped off. 
Grizzard told the publisher, “Wherever you see a blank space, just put an ‘e’ in there.” 
Grizzard’s 18 best-selling books include five No. 1 bestsellers on the New York Times’ bestseller list: "Elvis Is Dead And I Don’t Feel So Good Myself," "Shoot Low Boys — They’re Riding Shetland Ponies," "When My Love Returns From The Ladies Room Will I Be Too Old To Care?" and "Don’t Bend Over In The Garden Granny — You Know Them Taters Got Eyes."
Oberst is a South Carolina native. He lives in Los Angeles these days doing film and TV work. Onstage the actor wears Mr. Gizzard’s own Gucci loafers and his favorite golf shirt. 
“(More than 1,200) shows and I can count on my fingers the number of those that weren’t sold out,” says Oberst, “It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Lewis. The whole experience has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. I just hope when I get to heaven he’s not mad at me for wearing his shoes.”


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