‘Uncle Ted’ theater drama makes its way to the stage

'Uncle Ted' play opening Friday night in Anchorage
Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 10:09 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska’s longest serving U.S. Senator, made his way to the Senate floor in 1968.

Now, 13 years after his death, his story has made its way to the Cyrano’s Theatre Company stage in a one-man show titled “Uncle Ted.”

Alaska state Sen. Gary Stevens had the idea to write the play during the 2020 pandemic. After three years of rewrites, planning, and production, it’s finally ready to make its world premiere.

Although they share the same last name, Stevens is not related to the late senator. However, Gary Stevens knew Ted Stevens well enough to feel inspired to write something to commemorate him.

“Actually I was working on a biography of Ted — that was the plan to write a biography of his life — and as I got into it I realized, wow, his life was so dramatic and theatrical with airplane crashes, and the service, and World War II, and China, and the trial, and all the effects of his life I thought it would really work well as a piece of stage,” Gary Stevens stated. “You really have to pare it down to those issues that are most important that really bring him to life and helps the audience understand what he did and what he meant and the impact he had on Alaska.”

Director Kalli Randall said Stevens’ writing was backed by a lot of research.

“He started out kind of cataloging all these events in his life, and then with my help has condensed it down to this production which is Ted’s words of, kind of his last goodbye,” Randall explained.

Stevens recalled how the senator received his nickname “Uncle Ted,” which he decided would be the title of his play.

“Uncle Ted was really what everyone knew him as. It’s not something you would call him to his face, you would refer to him of course as ‘Senator Stevens.’” Gary Stevens said. “Ted became known as Uncle Ted, and it was always sort of a joke in a way, I’m not sure he appreciated it too much. He didn’t refer to himself as Uncle Ted at all. But yeah, I think it was just a title that Alaskans gave him at that time.”

The actor portraying Sen. Ted Stevens — Dan Morrison from Lake Tahoe, California — traveled to Anchorage to take the job.

“It was amazing working on this play, and I was like, ‘I don’t know anything about Ted Stevens,’ and then I got my flight and I was like, ‘I’m flying into the airport named after the character I’m just about to go play!” Morrison said.

The show will take place at Cyrano’s Theatre Company on Debarr Road, and will run Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from Sept. 29 to Oct. 22.