ST. PETERSBURG — American Stage will continue its 2020-21 “Reimagine” season with “Satchmo at the Waldorf,'' by Terry Teachout, premiering Feb. 19.
The play is directed by Ted Lange, whom audiences may recognize from his 10-year-long tenure on “The Love Boat” as bartender Isaac Washington.
The show takes place in 1971 in a dressing room backstage at the Empire Room of New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where Louis Armstrong performed in public for the last time four months before his death. Reminiscing into a tape recorder about his life and work, Armstrong seeks to come to terms with his long-standing relationship with Joe Glaser, his white manager whom he once loved like a father but now believes to have betrayed him.
This one-man play features American Stage audience favorite L. Peter Callender as all three characters: Armstrong, the greatest of all jazz trumpeters; Glaser; and Miles Davis, who admired Armstrong’s playing but disliked his onstage manner.
Callender has been involved in previous American Stage productions, including starring as the titular Othello during the company’s Virtual Stories, directing the critically acclaimed shows “Skeleton Crew” and “Pipeline,” and acting in his award-winning role as Walter “Pops'' Washington in “Between Riverside and Crazy.” With his work, he has accumulated 10 Tampa Bay award nominations, winning six including outstanding director for both “Jitney” and “Joe Turner’s Come & Gone.” Callender also serves as artistic director of African-American Shakespeare Company in San Francisco.
According to his biography, Callender is a native of Trinidad, West Indies, and has worked professionally as an actor for over 30 years. He received his formal training in the theater at the Juilliard School in New York City and Webber/Douglas Academy in London. He studied Mask Technique with Julie Taymor, and the Suzuki Technique with The Tadashi Suzuki Company in Toga-mura Japan. He has appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway, in regional theaters across the United States, and has performed internationally in Japan, England and France.
"As we continue to discover approaches to theatrical storytelling in a digital world, ‘Satchmo at the Waldorf’ offers the opportunity for us to showcase the work of a powerhouse actor, L. Peter Callender, portraying an iconic musician, through an intimate and compelling performance," said Stephanie Gularte, chief executive/producing artistic director at American Stage.
In addition to his memorable portrayal of Isaac Washington for 10 seasons on the classic television series “The Love Boat,” Lange is a prolific actor of stage and screen, director, author, and educator. According to a biography provided by Cast Productions, he is a graduate of London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. He has written 22 plays and received multiple theatrical awards. Lange made his Broadway acting debut in the musical hit “Hair” and his theatrical acting careers spans over 50 plays including South Coast Repertory’s “Piano Lesson,” “Sunshine Boys,” “Biloxi Blues,” and a national tour of “Driving Miss Daisy.”
“Satchmo at the Waldorf'' premieres Feb. 19 and runs through Feb. 28 with 12 pre-recorded performances. The 90-minute play is recommended for ages 14 and over, as it involves strong language and adult situations. This safely produced remote production will build on the innovations that American Stage introduced with “Kate: The Unexamined Life of Katharine Hepburn,” including the use of two cameras and a physical set.
In addition to Lange, the creative team includes Rachel Harrison, stage manager and sound engineer; Jerid Fox, production designer and scenic designer; Jill Castle, costume designer; Chris Baldwin, lighting designer; and John Millsap, scenic carpenter.
Individual recorded performance streams are available for $15 for performances Feb. 19-28. Recorded streams include a single stream of “Satchmo at the Waldorf” for six hours from the time of the performance.
American Stage season memberships provide all-access, all-season to streaming productions performed on the Virtual Stage, including “Satchmo at the Waldorf.” Patrons can learn more about memberships, including the benefits of being a member and the three different types of memberships, at americanstage.org/membership.
The American Stage 2020-21 Reimagine Season Guide, found on the American Stage homepage, offers further details about programming as well as an FAQ section. Patrons are encouraged to contact American Stage via telephone at 727-823-7529 or email email@example.com for assistance in accessing their American Stage account or connecting with the Virtual Stage.