BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — David Lundy is preparing for the role of his lifetime. At the New Phoenix Theatre in Buffalo, Lundy is taking on the role of a former president.
“He’s somebody that I’ve always looked up to and it started with seeing this play,” says Lundy. “I read everything I could get my hands on about Harry Truman after seeing this play.”
Lundy will portray President Harry Truman, the plain-spoken, no-nonsense 33rd President of the United States in the acclaimed one-man play, “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry!”
Truman became president after the death of FDR and guided the nation through the tumultuous end of World War II and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Later, he beat Thomas Dewey to remain in the White House, even though the Chicago Daily Tribune said otherwise with the headline: “Dewey Defeats Truman.”
David Lundy so immersed himself in this role that he took a road trip last summer to Truman’s hometown of Independence, Missouri, to see his presidential library and learn more about the man.
“I said I was going for research, but it really was because I wanted to see these things that I have been reading about all my life,” says Lundy.
He’s developed an understanding of Truman’s demeanor, his carriage, his clothing, even the way he combed his hair. And, he has become meticulous in his transformation to the president who famously informed Americans: “The buck stops here.”
Lundy will wear the Truman mantle on stage for an hour and a half each night — a daunting endeavor with so much dialogue it has taken him a year to get ready.
This includes examining each line of the play and comparing the playwright’s changes made for actor James Whitmore in 1975. Whitmore, who went to Amherst High School, was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry!” But Lundy is putting his own touch on this role.
“I want to say the lines as the playwright intended them and I’m sure he did, too,” says Lundy, “…but I’m not trying to imitate James Whitmore. I’m trying to be Harry Truman.”
Lundy is keenly aware of the political climate that surrounds his premiere. Presidential candidates are engaged in a vigorous slugfest for the Oval Office that Truman once occupied. And, what would Truman say about this?
Lundy speaking as Truman says: “I tell you there is one thing that can ruin this country and that would be if we had a liar in public office. Well, of course, the Constitution will stop ’em every time, but this country should never have a liar in public office.”
Truman was a Democrat, but setting aside party loyalty, Lundy says Truman might have this advice for today’s voters: “Don’t you dare vote for any party. You vote for yourselves, for your interests, and that’ll wind up being the right party.”
David Lundy says he has looked up to Harry Truman his whole life and as he steps into the spotlight as Truman, his dedication is clear.
“There’s a quote engraved near his tomb that says, ‘All I want for history is the truth.’ And that summed up for me how I felt about Truman.”
Lundy will stage six performances of “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry!” at the New Phoenix Theatre, 95 Johnson Park, Buffalo, on October 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, and 29. All shows are at 8 p.m. You may call 853-1334 for tickets. More information at http://www.newphoenixtheatre.org.