The Love Boat's Ted Lange once wrote a rock musical
There was more to Ted Lange than just tending the bar aboard The Love Boat. Although, in a 1981 interview with Tampa Bay Times, he claimed he could make a mean martini. Lange played the role of Isaac Washington for a total of 250 episodes. That's a lot of time at sea!
Beyond The Love Boat, Lange was a dedicated playwright and director.
"I love the theater," he said. "It's so marvelous. It's so raw. It's wonderful to see it survive."
Theater is where Lange thrived the most, despite his popular role on The Love Boat. Lange's original rock musical, Born a Unicorn premiered in June of 1981.
Born a Unicorn followed the story of Ira Aldridge, the first black Shakespearean actor. According to the interview, Ira Aldridge moved to England in the 1830s where they wouldn't let him play Othello. He ended up playing Othello in a London ghetto, where he became the first black man to play Othello.
"I love doing Shakespeare," he said. "One reason is I love it when English actors are bad. That's why I do other Shakespeare besides Othello and direct Shakespeare. English actors say to me, 'I say, old fellow, you're a bartender.' I say 'I've done Shakespeare,' and they say 'Othello?' I say, no, Romeo and Juliet. That gets them. There's nothing worse than an English actor in a bad American movie."
Ira Aldridge gave way to the Ira Aldridge Acting Awards, an annual competition designed to showcase minority actors.
Charles Weldon starred in Born a Unicorn, Damita Jo Freeman was the choreographer and Phyllis St. James and Beverly Bremers wrote the music and lyrics.
According to Lange, his title was based off of the legend of the unicorn. He recited it as: "A unicorn cannot be captured alive. If you want a unicorn you have to kill it. In its horn is a magical power."
"My play is about a black guy from New York in the 1830s who thinks he can go to England and become a famous actor," he said. "He had to believe he was a special person. He had to have the power of the unicorn."
The Love Boat gave Lange a platform to shine and he was able to get paid enough to produce and direct plays. Despite having the funds and a name in Hollywood, Lange said it wasn't easy to get noticed at first.
"It's very difficult to get your works to penetrate traditional theater," he said. "Black kids see me on television and it reinforces the fact that they have the ability to be funny and to be a professional actor."
Who knew Mr. Isaac Washington was so rock and roll?
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