“Looking Over the President’s Shoulder” is based on diaries of an African-American man who served as the White House’s chief butler for four administrations.

PORTLAND – Portland Stage Company is presenting “Looking Over the President’s Shoulder,” by James Still this month.

The one-man show stars Larry Marshall portraying Alonzo Fields, who served as chief butler at the White House from the Hoover to the Eisenhower administrations.

Fields shares his experiences with FDR, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and others in this remarkable one-man show.

This Portland Stage Company production, directed by Regge Life, is filled with memories and music from extraordinary times. It is an open conversation about one man’s coming to terms with how he has spent his life .

This is the story of a man who dreamed of life as a classical singer, but found himself in the dutiful role of butler for a quarter of a century. He’s filled with anecdotes, insights and wisdom from some of the most tumultuous years for the American government in the 20th century.

Still based this play on the diaries of the real-life Alonzo Fields, who worked in the White House for 21 years and 3 months. Fields died in 1994 at the age of 94. During his time, he saw four different administrations: those of Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower. Each new president was a unique personality, with idiosyncrasies, passions and commitments.

Still’s play attempts to go beyond the historical record to bring each of these different men and their families into a more personal and human focus, while sharing the life story of the man who ran their various households with great precision and style.

He discusses racism within the walls of the White House, recalls Roosevelt’s reaction to the bombing on Pearl Harbor and says Harry Truman was his favorite president (“I always felt that he understood me as a man, not just a servant to be tolerated – but as a man.”). Fields shares a look into the everyday lives of the presidents, their wives, dignitaries and movie stars.

When Fields completes his first family reminiscences, he asks the same question many of us do: “Have I lived my life wisely?”

“Looking Over the President’s Shoulder” opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 5, and runs through March 21. Shows are Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Call (207) 774-0465. Portland Stage Company is at 25A Forest Ave.


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