"I've been acting for 40 years," says Samson, laughing. "I've always liked it. I've always studied it."
But this time it's a role outside of Major League Baseball. Samson will portray Lorne Michaels, the impressario of "Saturday Night Live" in the world premiere of "Not Ready for Primetime," which will run at the New Theatre in Miami March 21 through April 13.
"I did some work with the New Theatre back in '09," adds Samson, referring to the troupe's "Miami Stories Celebrity One-Acts" fundraiser. "I was always interested in doing more. I was just looking for the right part. And Ricky [J. Martinez, the company's artistic director] is first class, so he asked me to try out for the part of Lorne Michaels because he thought it would be a good fit."
Martinez, who is also directing "Not Ready for Primetime," remembers after the Celebrity One Acts fundraiser "...he was joking around and saying how he would love to get back onstage. And I said, 'I'm not going to take that as a joke. I am going to find a role for you.' "
Samson's one-act play was "a little piece about marriage," recalls Martinez. "Our celebrities write their own little 10-minute play. It can be autobiographical or fictional or whatever style of theater they want it to be. Then I go back in there and dramaturgically help them format it into a play. The fun part about him was that he says to me, 'I want to be in it.' Only one other artist had said that before. I'm thinking, oh no, he's this 'enfant terrible' and now I'm going to direct him in a piece he's writing? But once we actually met I thought this was going to be perfect."
"Not Ready for Primetime" chronicles the early years of the storied late night comedy TV show that made household names of Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Laraine Newman, Bill Murray, Garrett Morris, Chevy Chase and John Belushi. The play was written by locals Erik J. Rodriguez and Charles A. Sothers.
"I thought the script was outstanding for starters," Samson says. "I thought it was a subject matter of great interest which I had not seen before and it was this combination of funny and serious. Lorne Michaels was a great business man. He has the ability to uncover and unlock these amazing comedic talents. It kind of reminds me of discovering baseball players."
New Theatre’s World Premiere production of "Not Ready for Primetime" by Erik J. Rodriguez and Charles A. Sothers, premieres March 21 and runs under a limited run through April 13, 2014 every Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 1:00 and 5:30 pm.
Tickets are $25 general admission and $30 for reserved seating. A four-play season membership is $100. To roder or get more information, call 305-443-5909 or visit New-Theatre.org.
New Theatre is located at The Roxy Performing Arts Center, 1645 S.W. 107 Avenue in Miami (just off of the Florida Turnpike across from the Floirda International University campus).
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