It wasn't awkward at all meeting the guy whose mom I've had a crush on for about 30 years.
(KPCC's John Rabe and NPR's Susan Stamberg at The Broad in Feb. Credit: John Rabe)
Josh Stamberg, son of NPR icon Susan Stamberg, plays "Teach" in the LA Theatre Works production of David Mamet's "American Buffalo." But as the TV star's mom told me in an email, "One of his first theatrical adventures was as a waiter in the Maret School production of Hello Dolly."
"Actually," Josh says, "It was 'James and the Giant Peach' in second grade, and the first big one was 'Fiddler on the Roof,' like any good young Jewish boy would do. Also, 'Carousel,' which I may have dropped out of because I was playing soccer or something."
"Those are a little heavy for 10 year olds," I say. But in Stamberg's school, they did 'Requiem for a Heavyweight' as the senior play!
In any case, it prepared him well for "American Buffalo," a very early Mamet play. "I believe it was his third play," he says, "and in some ways, it reads to me like his most compact. I guess there are others that have as few characters, but it feels very lean in the best way. And the dialogue is the great Mamet dialog; that weaponry of language."
To see Stamberg (Showtime’s “The Affair”) and Rich Hutchman ("Mad Men" and "Crazy, Stupid, Love") doing one of the cleanest scenes from the play, check out the video on our Facebook page.
Directed by Brian Kite, "American Buffalo" runs Thu., Nov. 19 through Sunday, Nov. 22 at the Bridges Theatre at UCLA. It's an LA Theatre Works production, which means it's a staged reading, with a Foley artist (Jeff Gardner) doing the sound and the actors at microphones, looking straight ahead, not at their fellow cast members.
"It is hard to not make eye contact," Stamberg says, "because that's part of the beauty of collaboration as an actor, but it's also relieving and wonderful to just put the focus on the words."
"American Buffalo" ends Sunday, then presumably Josh will be resting up for the annual Stamberg family tradition: making the Pepto-Bismol pink cranberry relish his mother has become famous for. You can make it, too.