Marlins fans already have March 31, 2014 in their calendars as the start of pre-season baseball. But the most masochistic of Marlins fans -- a group that would buy Cracker Jacks at their own beheadings -- have March 21 reserved with a blood-red X.
That's the date that Miami Marlins president David Samson makes his debut as television producer Lorne Michaels in the New Theatre's Not Ready for Primetime, a new play about behind-the-scenes drama at Saturday Night Live. Samson's previous credits include the New Theatre's 2009 Celebrity One-Acts fundraiser, being brought up on RICO charges for his involvement in the sale of the Montreal Expos, and calling the people of Miami stupid for letting him build more-or-less the most expensive (and ugly...and empty...) stadium ever with billions of taxpayer dollars.
Samson is also known as the long-time loathsome sidekick to team owner Jeffrey Loria, the guy who steals candy from your children and then unwraps it loudly in the row behind you during the big finale death scene. The duo honed their act in out-of-town tryouts, first bilking the citizens of Montreal before bringing their show down to Miami.
It would be kind to call the circumstances around their sale of the Expos ethically ambiguous, but their experience in moving their cronies from Canada to the US may actually inform Samson's portrayal of Michaels; the difference is that before Blues Brothers 2000, Michaels's Canadian export Dan Akyroyd had already made the actual The Blues Brothers. Still, it is entirely possible that Samson is just a very elaborate method actor, of a stripe to shame Daniel Day-Lewis into feeling like a community theater dilettante. Of course, when Daniel Day-Lewis plays a robber baron or a glass-eyed underworld thug, he and everyone else ultimately knows that it's just pretending.
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The play, written by locals Erik J. Rodriguez and Charles A. Sothers, focuses on the difficulties of producing the show and presumably focuses on the notorious season when Michaels released most of the show's players, leaving only Chris Kattan and a pile of mismatched shoes from the lost and found. For theater fans baffled by baseball, it may be helpful to think of Samson like Othello's Iago who in Act I, Scene iii soliloquizes, "Thus do I ever make my fool my purse: / For I mine own gain'd knowledge should profane, / If I would time expend with such a snipe. / But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor..." Replace "the Moor" with "Miami" and you've basically got a transcript from a Samson radio interview.
Eager stage door Johnnies take note: Not Ready for Primetime will run only slightly longer than the Marlins' post-season hopes, coming to an end on April 13, 2014. The performances will be every Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at the Roxy Performing Arts Center (1645 SW 107 Ave., Miami). Reserved tickets cost $30 plus fees. For $100, you can get a subscription to the New Theatre's season of four plays, which seems fitting because if there ever were an organization that could somehow step into a quadruple play situation, it would be one affiliated with David Samson.