The Mercury News
Ted Lange brings `Satchmo' to stage
Most audiences would remember Ted Lange for his role as bartender Isaac Washington on the 1970s TV hit “The Love Boat.” What those TV viewers might not realize is that Lange, who grew up in Oakland, is not only a gifted actor but an accomplished director, too.
And it's as a director that he returned to the Bay Area this month for San Jose Stage's production of “Satchmo at the Waldorf.” Lange collaborated with the amazing L. Peter Callender, artistic director of the AfricanAmerican Shakespeare Company in San Francisco. Callender inhabits three roles in the oneman show — jazz legend Louis Armstrong; his manager, Joe Glaser; and another jazz great, Miles Davis.
The show, which opened last weekend and runs through Feb. 26, is a powerful look at the complicated world of stardom and identity — a peek behind the curtain at an entertainer audiences may not have known as well as they thought they did. “This piece has so many different movements to it, just like an orchestra,” Callender said during a post-show session with Sunday's matinee audience. “And Ted and I worked on each movement specifically to make sure it fit the entire symphony.”
Lange agreed, referring to a covenant between actor and director. “When you're on the same page, the actor cannot go out of character or off on a tangent because we both agree where we're going,” he said. “We both agree on the journey.”
Remember I said most audiences would remember Lange from “The Love Boat”? Lange told a funny story about his visit to downtown San Jose. He stopped by the new 386 Lounge on South First Street, not far from San Jose Stage, and ordered a drink at the bar. The bartender served it to him with a little flair — making Lange think he did it on purpose because he recognized him as his character.
“Do you know who I am?” Lange asked. The bartender said he didn't. He didn't know
about “The Love Boat,” eventually conceding that he was only 27 — born a decade after the show went off the air. Another patron at the bar, though, said he remembered Lange from the show. “But I'm 40,” he told him.
PIZZA AND POLITICS >> Pizza My Heart owner Chuck Hammers was at President Biden's State of the Union address Tuesday in Washington D.C. as the guest of U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta. Hammers showed Biden, Panetta and other leaders the damage to the Capitola location of the pizza chain following the massive storms last month. “The damage sustained by Chuck's businesses is an all-too-common story for small business owners in our communities following the recent storms, from Santa Cruz County to Monterey County and on down to northern San Luis Obispo County,” Panetta said in a release. No word if Hammers brought along one of Pizza My Heart's award-winning Big Sur pies.
Members of Congress each get to invite a guest to the speech, though those guests have attended virtually the past two years. Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Rep. Eric Swallwell invited Tammy Ma, a plasma physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Kim Budil, the laboratory's director, as their guests. Rep. Anna Eshoo's invitation went to Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, founder and executive director of Ayudando Latinos a Soñar, which has been helping farmworkers' families affected by the Half Moon Bay shooting last month.
REEL MUSIC >> Symphony San Jose has drawn some big crowds for its “movies in concert” events, with the symphony playing a live score as the audience watches a movie above them. The symphony is leaning into the trend in a big way over the next few months, with cinema experiences that should appeal to different audiences.
First up is 1988's “Cinema Paradiso” at the Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 11 and 12, featuring a moving score by Ennio Morricone. That'll be followed by Disney Pixar's “Coco,” with music composed by Michael Giacchino, on April 29-30 and “Game ON!” on May 26-27, which journeys into the world of video games with music from World of Warcraft, “Assassins Creed,” “The Witcher” and more. No doubt that'll be a feast for gamers' eyes and ears.
Tickets for each Movies in Concert event at the Center for the Performing Arts start at $45, but box office manager Jacqueline Meyer has a tip for movie lovers. You can get a 15% discount if you buy tickets for all three — or any three Symphony San Jose concerts — as a package. Go to tickets.symphonysanjose.org for details.