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Christopher Lloyd will play Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman”

Posted by on Aug 30, 2010 | Leave a Comment

Christopher Allen Lloyd is an American actor who is famous for his portrayals of characters such as Emmett “Doc” Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy, Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Uncle Fester in The Addams Family and Addams Family Values and so on. Now, in the Weston Playhouse’s production of the classic Arthur Miller drama ‘Death of a Salesman’, he is going to play the character of the ill-fated Willy Loman.

Christopher Lloyd

The show will shoot from August 26-September 11 at the Weston Playhouse, in Weston, Vt. Christopher Lloyd said the other day in his gravelly, jittery, half-mumble of a voice, “There are some roles I’ve gotten”, “that when I get the script, sometimes I ask, ‘Why me?’ It’s not that I object. It’s like, ‘What do they see in me that they want to see in this role?’ ”

The ‘Death of a Salesman’ drama includes cast like Nathan Darrow as Happy, Markus Potter as Biff, Matt R. Harrington as Bernard, Munson Hicks as Charley, Philip Kerr as Uncle Ben, David Bonanno as Howard/Stanley, Amy Van Nostrand as Linda Loman, Brandy Zarle as The Woman, Elizabeth Morton as Jenny/Letta and Beth Hylton as Miss Forsythe. The production will also feature scenic design by Timothy R. Mackabee, lighting design by Stuart Duke and costume design by Kirche Leigh Zeile.

The director of the ‘Death of a Salesman’ is Steve Stettler who also has directed Weston’s The Light in the Piazza, A Number and the fall tour of Metamorphoses in recent years. Director Stettler said, “This play – amazingly never seen before on the Weston stage, the superb cast and design team, and the long-awaited return of Christopher Lloyd, presents us with the opportunity of a lifetime”. “This was the show that Chris wanted to do and the place he wanted to do it. We’re very excited to share it with our largest and broadest audience ever through our extended schedule of performances at home and on tour.”

Death of a Salesman is harmonized by extensive education and outreach programs which are similar to all Weston productions. Before 30 minutes of play ‘The Playhouse Living Room’, Director Stettler will talk about the play on August 26, 27 and prior to the August 28 matinee. He will also lead a talkback in the theatre with members of the cast following the performance on Sundays August 29 and September 5. A Stage Notes performance guide and a list of tour locations can be found at westonplayhouse.org.

Describing about the drama Mr. Lloyd said, “The first act feels like a three-act play, it’s so full of life and situations”, “And then there’s a second act. Which is even worse.”Mr. Lloyd said the memory part of the equation did not come easy for him. (“Some people have quick retention,” he said. “I’m not one of those.”) But growing older, he said, has compensated him in other ways. “You become a little more understanding when you’re faced — maybe not literally, but close enough to connect with Willy’s terrors,” he said. “Ten years ago I don’t think I could have taken it on. Aging does help.”

In his typically obscure manner Mr. Lloyd could not say how he summoned Willy Loman’s explosive energy to decry “the stink from that apartment house” nearby, or to smack Markus Potter, the actor playing his son Biff, for “spiting” him. “I’m not sure how to explain that,” Mr. Lloyd said. “I guess a lot of need to express myself. When I get the opportunity, I jump on it.” Mr. Lloyd spoke of a friend who has watched him study for his work and then seen him perform, and he said, “She just doesn’t get it.

“I’m sitting there on the couch with the script,” Mr. Lloyd said, running a hand through the frizzy gray and white hairs on his head, “very subdued, and then she sees the show. And she’s going: ‘What the hell? Where — where did that come from?’” When he was asked if it gave him pleasure to surprise people that way, a sly grin crept across Mr. Lloyd’s face. “Yeah,” he said. “Why not?

From The New York Times (A Surprise of a Salesman: Christopher Lloyd):

…when Mr. Lloyd was given the opportunity by a small New England theater company to play nearly any part he desired, his choice was almost as improbable as the notion of a time-traveling DeLorean sports car. He selected Willy Loman, the crumbling patriarch of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman…

…’I thought about it overnight, and I just sort of — ‘Death of a Salesman.’

‘The first act feels like a three-act play, it’s so full of life and situations,’ Mr. Lloyd said. ‘And then there’s a second act. Which is even worse.’

Mr. Stettler [producing director, Weston Playhouse] said the key to Mr. Lloyd’s success in the role was ‘the breadth of his humanity.’ He continued: ‘If Willy becomes a foolish or hateful character, the play doesn’t work. You have to see that this is a good person gone wrong, and Chris has never thrown cheap gags or tics or humor where it doesn’t belong.’

More important, Mr. Stettler said, is that “Death of a Salesman” requires ‘an actor who still has the memory and the stage power to loom.’

Mr. Lloyd said the memory part of the equation did not come easy for him. (‘Some people have quick retention,’ he said. ‘I’m not one of those.’)

But growing older, he said, has compensated him in other ways. ‘You become a little more understanding when you’re faced — maybe not literally, but close enough to connect with Willy’s terrors,’ he said. ‘Ten years ago I don’t think I could have taken it on. Aging does help.’

Video of Christopher Lloyd rehearses Death of a Salesman from YouTube:


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