About ME

I can still remember the exact moment when I was bitten by the theatrical bug. I was nine years old, and my parents had taken me to see “The Magic Show” starring Doug Henning. The lights dimmed in the theatre and there was a low hum from the orchestra. Two men, cloaked in brightly colored fabric, entered from the back of the house, one coming down each aisle. It was like they were coming to get me. I was terrified and mesmerized. It was 1974 at the Cort Theatre in New York City. It happened then and there.

I started performing in grade school. Perhaps you might remember some of my scintillating performances as the Belligerent Man in “Our Town” or the Angry Neighbor in “The Prisoner of Second Avenue”). At Choate Rosemary Hall, I started directing and my senior project was a production of John Steinbeck’s “Burning Bright” starring a young man named Paul Giamatti in his first performance. As an undergraduate at Pomona College in Los Angeles, I formed my own theatre company, Campus Cabaret, and staged a dozen plays and musicals including “Company,” “The Shadow Box,” Caryl Churchill’s “Fen,” and “Side By Side by Sondheim.” I did summer stock at the Barn Theatre in Augusta, Michigan, where I appeared in “Evita” with a then unknown Marin Mazzie. Another summer, I appeared as the Bear opposite H.R.H. The Prince Edward in a production of “The Winter’s Tale” in Aberdeen, Scotland.

My first job in New York was as a production assistant on a big, new, Broadway musical called “Legs Diamond” starring Peter Allen. It was one of the great flops of all time and my entrée into show business. Fortunately, other jobs followed which led me into stage management: “Orpheus Descending starring Vanessa Redgrave and directed by Sir Peter Hall, the original musical version of “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” and a Canadian tour and Broadway run of “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.”

At 25, I was finally a part of the theatrical community. And then my life took an unexpected twist. It was the early 1990s, and AIDS was devastating the lives of thousands of gay men. I felt as if I had to get involved. One afternoon, during 10/12s at “Legs Diamond,” Harvey Fierstein told me I should go to an ACT UP meeting and when I did, Larry Kramer yelled at me. “There was so much fear and anger and nobody was doing anything” wrote Terrence McNally in “Mothers and Sons.” I happened to visit an old college friend who was in medical school. She took me to her gross anatomy lab and unwrapped a partially dissected human cadaver. In that moment, I decided to become a physician.

You might think that was it for me and the theatre. But once in med school at the State University Health Science Center in Brooklyn, I discovered that the students would put on these sophomoric sketch shows in which they poked fun at the faculty. I saw my chance and jumped right in. I wrote and directed my own musical “OKLA-HMO! The Madcap Managed Care Musical.” It was a big hit. The theatrical bug still was under my skin.

There really wasn’t any time to return to the theatre with the rigors of my medical training. I returned to Los Angeles and completed my residency in Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. I subsequently joined the psychiatric faculty at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where I came to specialize in Psychosomatic Medicine. It was around that time that I also opened my private practice in West Los Angeles. While I love helping people to better understand themselves, I knew I wouldn’t be complete until I was back in the theatre. I began performing again in shows around Los Angeles. I spent summers at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center and the St Louis Cabaret Conference. I had the opportunity to study with masterful teachers such as Marilyn Maye, Betty Buckley, Karen Morrow, and the incomparable Faith Prince.

As I approach the third act of my life, I’m continuing to perform onstage, while also moving into film and television. I spend my days with patients and my nights onstage. I still listen to “The Magic Show” and the orchestra can still transport me back fifty years. It’s hard to believe all those years have passed but I’m excited to think what lies ahead.

David
Callander

Actor

David
Callander

Actor

About ME

I can still remember the exact moment when I was bitten by the theatrical bug. I was nine years old, and my parents had taken me to see “The Magic Show” starring Doug Henning. The lights dimmed in the theatre and there was a low hum from the orchestra. Two men entered from the back of the house, one coming down each aisle. There were cloaked in fabric that I remember to be aqua and green stripes. I was terrified and mesmerized. It happened right then. In 1974. At the Cort Theatre in New York City.

Shortly thereafter, I was discovered by an actress named Rosemary Rice while I was appearing in a culturally inappropriate school musical called “Indian Moon.” I was offered an audition for a commercial. I still remember the jingle they had me sing: “Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset up, all we ask is that you let us serve it your way!” Apparently, it went well, but sometime later when I hadn’t heard back, I asked my mother about it. She told me I got the job, but my parents had declined. They wanted me to grow up in a more wholesome way. Grrrr!

I continued performing in grade school. Perhaps you might remember some of my scintillating performances as the Belligerent Man in “Our Town” or the Angry Neighbor in “The Prisoner of Second Avenue”). At Choate Rosemary Hall, I started directing and my senior project was a production of John Steinbeck’s “Burning Bright” starring a young man named Paul Giamatti. As an undergraduate at Pomona College in Los Angeles, I formed my own theatre company, Campus Cabaret, and staged a dozen plays and musicals including “Company,” “The Shadow Box,” Caryl Churchill’s “Fen,” and “Side BySide by Sondheim.” I spent a summer doing stock at the Barn Theatre in Augusta, Michigan, where I appeared in “Evita” with a then unknown Marin Mazzie. Another summer, I appeared as the Bear opposite H.R.H. The Prince Edward in a production of “The Winter’s Tale” in Aberdeen, Scotland, and just before graduating, I interned with the Nederlander Organization.

My first job in New York was as a production assistant on a big, new, Broadway musical called “Legs Diamond” starring the Australian cabaret singer Peter Allen. It was one of the great flops of all time and my entrée into show business. Fortunately, other jobs followed which led me into stage management: “Orpheus Descending starring Vanessa Redgrave and directed by Sir Peter Hall, the original musical version of “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” and a Canadian tour and Broadway run of “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.” I was just 25.

I was finally a part of the theatrical community that I had always wanted to belong to. But just as I was contemplating how to redirect myself towards acting and directing, my life took an unexpected twist. It was the early 1990s, and AIDS was devastating the lives of thousands of gay men and others. I felt as if I had to get involved. One afternoon, during 10/12s at “Legs Diamond,” Harvey Fierstein told me I should go to an ACT UP meeting and when I did, Larry Kramer yelled at me. “There was so much fear and anger” as Terrence McNally said in “Mothers and Sons.” I wasn’t sure if I would see 30. I happened to visit an old college friend who was in medical school. She took me to her gross anatomy lab and unwrapped a partially dissected human cadaver. In that moment, I decided to become a physician.

You might have thought that was it for me and the theatre. But once in med school at the State University Health Science Center in Brooklyn, I discovered that the students would put on these sophomoric sketch shows in which they poked fun at the faculty. I saw my chance. I jumped right in and announced, “I want pictures and resumes on my desk first thing in the morning!” The medical students looked at me like I was crazy. I wrote and directed my own musical “OKLA-HMO! The Madcap Managed Care Musical.” Uh oh. The theatrical bug still was under my skin.

There really wasn’t any time to return to the theatre with the rigors of my medical training. I returned to Los Angeles and completed my residency in Psychiatry at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. I subsequently joined the psychiatric faculty at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where I came to specialize in Psychosomatic Medicine. It was around that time that I also opened my private practice in West Los Angeles. While I loved being a psychiatrist and helping people to better understand themselves, I knew I wouldn’t be complete until I was back in the theatre. I started voice classes and began performing in musicals in Los Angeles. I spent summers at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center and the St Louis Cabaret Conference learning the art of storytelling through song. I had the opportunity to study with masterful teachers such as Marilyn Maye, Betty Buckley, and the incomparable Faith Prince.

And that brings us to today. As I approach my third act, I’m looking to continue my stage work and I’m starting to explore film, tv, and commercials. Prior to the pandemic, I started studying ballroom dance. I spend my days in private practice and my nights are devoted to performing. I still listen to “The Magic Show” and those opening notes of the orchestra still transport me back almost fifty years. It’s hard to believe all those years have passed and exciting to think what lies ahead.