One-man powerhouse at Stage 3

Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat /

This is the final weekend to see a dynamic one-man play about a butler who served four presidents in the White House.

Stage 3 Theatre will continue its special three-week engagement of "Looking Over the President's Shoulder" through Sunday at 208 S. Green St. in downtown Sonora.

Curtain times are 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For reservations, call 536-1778 or visit www.stage3.org.

Dwight D. Mahabir stars in the true story of Alonzo Fields, an aspiring opera singer in Washington, D.C., who was forced by the Depression to accept a domestic job at the White House, where he ended up spending 21 years as chief butler.

Fields served from 1931 to early 1953, working for four presidents - Herbert Hoover, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower - and their families.

The play, written by James Still, is based on Fields' memoir, "My 21 Years in the White House." Following its publication in 1960, the White House banned all memoirs by domestic employees.

There is nothing terribly shocking about the content, although the perspective is fascinating. Fields sheds light on the diverse personalities of the White House inhabitants and records details not found in history books, including the spontaneous presidential reactions to several crucial events.

Mahabir gives a masterful performance in a role he has previously performed at the Gallo Center for the Arts, West Side Theatre and Townsend Opera Players' Little Opera Hall.

The play includes some operatic forays by Mahabir, each drawing the audience's applause. It should be no surprise then that Mahabir is also an accomplished singer in his own right.

"Looking Over the President's Shoulder" is rife with humor, drama and human pathos. It is a full-length production with a single set and atmospheric lighting.

Mahabir has a challenging part to play - conveying not only one man's experience but bringing the entire White House to life, all the while keeping the audience engaged through an avalanche of conversational dialogue.

He succeeds royally.

Mahabir, a New York native, began his acting career at the age of 9, training with the Stella Adler Acting Studio in Manhattan and studying voice with Dino Anagnost, director of the Orpheum Chorale at the Lincoln Center of Performing Arts.

His theater credits include "The Me Nobody Knows," "Oklahoma!," "The King and I," "Anything Goes," "Finian's Rainbow," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Big River," "Blues in the Night," "The Marriage of Figaro," "Scrooge," "Man of La Mancha," "Phantom," "Paint Your Wagon," "The Full Monty," "Amahl the Night Visitors" and "Macbeth."

Also a member of the Screen Actors Guild, Mahabir can be seen in the films "The Education of Sonny Carson," "Law and Disorder" and "Seeing Red."

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