Christopher Lloyd To Perform At Weston Playhouse

04/19/10 7:34AM By Susan Keese
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Christopher Lloyd
(Host) This summer Emmy-winning actor Christopher Lloyd will star in a new production of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" at the Weston Playhouse.

Lloyd is best known for his roles in the TV series Taxi, and the ‘Back to the Future' films, in which he played the eccentric professor.

VPR's Susan Keese caught up with him in Weston.

(Keese) Christopher Lloyd got his indoctrination into theater on the Weston stage. Just out of drama school, he spent a summer season at the playhouse in 1964. He did seven plays in ten weeks.

Lloyd says he already had a family connection in Weston.

(Lloyd) "My brother Sam came up here in 1952, so I came up often during those years and visited. So I think my brother Sam pulled some levers. It's called nepotism."

(Keese) But it got him started as a working actor. And he never stopped working.

The only time he returned to Weston in a role was in 1990 when he played Sherlock Holmes.

Steve Stettler, Weston's producing director has been asking Lloyd to do another play. He invited him again last May, when Lloyd was visiting.

(Stettler) "And I asked him, if you were going to come back, is there something you would like to do?"

(Keese) Without missing a beat, Lloyd answered: "Death of a Salesman"

(Lloyd ) "It's such an amazing, amazing play. And I thought here's my opportunity to do something I may never get a chance to do again, so I kind of leapt on it."

(Keese) Lloyd, who lives outside L.A., was at the playhouse recently.  He and Stettler met with high school teachers who plan to teach the play and bring their students to see it.

Although the play doesn't open until the end of August, Lloyd is already working on it.

(Lloyd) "I just felt compelled to start immediately reading and rereading and rereading the script for what was there about this man and his family and his struggle to cope with a time in his life where everything is coming down on him.."

(Keese) Lloyd read a passage in which the aging salesman Willy Loman tries to explain his need to get off the road to the uncomprehending son of his old boss.

He talks about the salesman who convinced him as a youth that there could be no higher calling than to be someone who could pick up the phone anywhere and be greeted and known.

(Lloyd) "When he died, hundreds of Salesmen and Buyers were at his funeral. In those days, there was personality in it, Howard. There was respect and comradeship and gratitude in it. Today it's all cut and dried and there's no chance to bring friendship to bear, or personality. You see what I mean? They don't know me anymore."

(Keese) Since 1949 when the play first opened, Loman has been portrayed in many ways: as a pathetic failure; as a casualty of capitalism; as a man succumbing to Alzheimer's.

Lloyd says he hopes to tap into the character's humanity. He sees him as a fighter, and a sort of everyman, whose truth Lloyd is still working to discover.

For VPR News, I'm Susan Keese.

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