Reviews

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Top Bay Area Theater Scene in 2014

Most Valuable Player:

L. Peter Callender

When he’s not busy helping raise the profile and production quality at African-American Shakespeare Company, where he’s artistic director, Callender’s name in many a theater’s cast list raises expectations for fine acting ahead. A veteran Shakespearean, the Trinidad-born, classically trained actor has appeared in some three dozen roles as an associate artist with California Shakespeare Theater but is equally at home in works ranging from the ancient Greeks to Ibsen, Wilde, Shaw, Brecht, Tennessee Williams, Harold Pinter, Athol Fugard and August Wilson, and on stages as diverse as Berkeley Rep, ACT, Marin Theatre Company and the Aurora. Watching his recent segue from Shaw’s comfortably sanguine, gentlemanly Pickering, in Pygmalion at Cal Shakes, to a tightly controlled, paranoid, iron-willed and duplicitous Mugabe, in Fraser Grace’s Breakfast With Mugabe at Aurora, was a lesson in the power of subtle nuance.

Robert Hurwitt, SF Gate |  December 24, 2014

Shadow on Concrete Wall

L. Peter Callender has such compelling physical presence that he could probably make folding the laundry mesmerizing.

Cy Ashley Webb, Stark Insider 
reviewing THE SOLDIER'S TALE (Aurora)

L. Peter Callender is a supreme artist and anyone who has the privilege of seeing him perform on stage knows he is unforgettable in any part he plays."

Lynn Ruth Miller, For All Events

Best of the East Bay 2007

Best Actor: Creating principled characters

L. Peter Callender

Although he's capable of playing baddies — note his recent bloodthirsty turns in As You Like It and World Music — Callender's wicked characters are smart and principled, even if those principles include "It's alright to banish your brother to the wilderness" or "Go ahead and take a machete to your neighbor." And when he plays more sympathetic characters, they're always people you'd like to know better, from the head of a traveling theatrical family in CalShakes' Nicholas Nickleby to the embattled museum director in the Aurora's triumphant Permanent Collection. Indeed, we're hard-pressed to find anything he can't do with tremendous warmth, gravitas, intelligence, and generosity (CalShakes' Twelfth Night audiences may remember his passing the hat right after 9/11 for the families affected by the tragedy). He also occasionally plays funny — if only more directors used him this way — with a wonderful vocal range and evocative physical gestures to carry along his transfixed audience. A powerful performer, Callender is actively engaged in creating a better community in his choice of roles that kindle discussion and debate.

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OTHELLO

AASC | 2019

Callender seems born to play this role.

The character's explosive emotional list exudes from his very pores.

Jean Schiffman - SF Examiner

The performance is nothing short of magnificent and horrifying at the same time.

Eddie Reynolds - Theatre Eddys

Shadow on Concrete Wall
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BETWEEN RIVERSIDE & CRAZY

American Stage, FL | 2018

...it's actual being onstage. Heartbreaking, real, full of pain and love, caring and loss, pride and defeat, anger and grace.

-Peter Nason, Broadway World St Petersburg

[Callender] plays Walter with just the right grit, restraint and whip-smart charisma.

Julie Garisto, Creative Pinellas

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RICHARD III

AASC | 2018

Callender knows what he's got a hold of, and plays it to the hilt. A performance like this comes along once in a blue moon.

Charles Kruger, TheatreStorm

Callender cuts a commanding figure..., his dominance over the space unquestionable.

Shannon O'Hara, The Daily Californian

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JITNEY

AASC | 2017

Callender's Becker commands the office chaos like Prospero; it is a treat to experience his range of intensity...

Charles Kruger, TheatreStorm

[T]here is nothing that can prepare you for the absolute magic ... between Reid and Callender.

David John Chavez, Bay Area Plays

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"MASTER HAROLD"...
and the Boys

Aurora Theatre Company | 2016

Callender creates a touching man who...cares more for his relationships than his pride. Not a posture, word, or dance step is out of place.

Ilana Walder-Biesanz, Stark Insider

...Callender is transcendent as Sam, the emotionally generous surrogate father.

Jeffrey Edalatpour, SF Weekly

PROOF

TheatreWorks | 2015

[Callender's] nuanced performance most fully embodies the play's embrace of enigma and the elusive nature of genius.

-Karen D'Souza, San Jose Mercury News

 ...moving with a generous slowness and clarity that reads as wisdom, in a way that only Callender can.

Cy Ashley Webb, Stark Insider

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THE CONVERT

Marin Theatre Company | 2015

Shining particularly bright [is] L. Peter Callender as Uncle, demonstrating yet again his remarkable range and skill...

Charles Kruger, TheatreStorm

In a small but masterful turn... the redoubtable Callendar as Uncle needs no skeletal make-up to play menace laced with charm...

Robert Sokol, SF Examiner

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BREAKFAST WITH MUGABE

Aurora Theatre Company | 2014

Callender inhabits Mugabe with a nerve-rattling intensity, channeling the tyrant with an unsettling verisimilitude.

Karen D'Souza, San Jose Mercury News

Callender is absolutely transformed into Mugabe, from his defiant, proud posture to his calculated speech. 

Noemi Berkowitz, The Stanford Daily

THE WINTER'S TALE

CalShakes | 2013

Jealousy...builds...by such carefully calibrated degrees in Callender's laser-sharp performance...

Robert Hurwitt, SF Chronicle

 To watch Callender navigate this steep emotional terrain is to watch an actor in full command. We don’t understand Leontes, but we absolutely believe him.

Chad Jones, Theatredogs

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THE WHIPPING MAN

Marin Theatre Company | 2013

Callender is called upon to play scene after scene of extreme emotional intensity and he rises to it over and over again in a performance of operatic grandeur. 

Charles Kruger, TheatreStorm

L. Peter Callender outdoes himself in this play.  He carries the action and he is breathtaking every moment he is on that stage.

Lynn Ruth Miller, For All Events 

CIRCLE MIRROR

 TRANSFORMATION

Marin Theatre Company | 2012

L. Peter Callender (fresh from his fantastic turn in California Shakespeare Theater’s Spunk) is James, Marty’s husband, taking the class as a show of support for his wife, but perhaps there are other reasons. Watching Callender play a gibberish word game with Arwen Anderson, a once-aspiring New York actress, is one of many mind-blowing moments in the show when what’s happening on stage seems astonishingly, even electrifyingly real.

Karen D'Souza, San Jose Mercury News

Shadow on Concrete Wall

MY CHILDREN! MY AFRICA!

Marin Theatre Company | 2009

L. Peter Callender embodies that complexity [of trying to right social wrongs] with every paternalistic utterance and sidelong glance.

Robert Hurwitt, SF Chronicle

L. Peter Callender is brilliant as Mr. M. He gives one of his most triumphant performances of his distinguished career.

Richard Connema, Talkin' Broadway

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PERMANENT COLLECTION

Aurora Theatre Company | 2006

[Sterling] played by L. Peter Callender with magnetic intensity beneath a smooth surface...an all-too-common story told with a seductive charm and slyly mounting tension that make it almost impossible not to identify completely with Sterling's trial and triumph.

Robert Hurwitt, SF Gate

KING HEDLEY II

Lorraine Hansberry Theater | 2004

Callender anchors the show with a riveting performance in the title role. Tightly wound and fiercely focused, his Hedley is a study in anger simmering just beneath an extremely thin-skinned surface, and a pride that both sustains him and threatens his existence.

Robert Hurwitt, SF Chronicle