Don Shelby at home in his second-floor den in Excelsior. (Joel Koyama/Star Tribune)

The Minnesota writer whose book became a sensation in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election probably would be delighted to know his book is on its way to the stage.

That is, if he hadn't been dead for 67 years.

Former broadcaster, necktie trailblazer and occasional actor Don Shelby will lead a reading of an adaptation of "It Can't Happen Here," by Sinclair Lewis, who was born in Sauk Centre. The novel, written during Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany (and Huey Long's in Louisiana), imagines a similar, fascist scenario happening in this country. Originally published in 1935, the book became a bestseller again after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016.

Shelby is playing the role of small-town newspaper editor Doremus Jessup, who opposes the politican's rise to power. The ex-journalist will lead a cast of actors who will have scripts in hand for the one-night-only event but producer James Gambone says he has further plans for the play, including a full production or a radio adaptation, as the next presidential election nears.

The reading will take place at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 30 at Sabes Jewish Community Center Theater, 4330 S. Cedar Lake Rd., Minneapolis. Tickets, which are $10-$15, are available at

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