The actor on stage moves with familiar gestures. He speaks with all the same intonations that television and movie audiences have come to know over the years.
Alan Alda's style is unmistakable. But the actor on stage is not Alan Alda. It is his half-brother, Antony.
Antony is only 33 and has long hair, yet he looks a great deal like his better-known sibling. He moves and talks in remarkably similar fashion to Alan.
"What is it, 23 pairs of chromosomes?" Antony says. "We only have one parent in common, and we didn't grow up together. It makes me realize the importance of genetics."
Alda is appearing in "How Did It Feel . . .?" at the Gnu Theatre in North Hollywood. The play received a lukewarm review in The Times, but the cast was complimented for its strong acting.
On a recent afternoon, Alda sat on the patio outside the theater and talked about performing in the shadow of his brother and their father, the late Robert Alda.
"It works for you and against you," he said. "People figure you know what you're doing because you grew up around acting. Other people think you got the part because of your name."
Though comparisons to Alan may at times be a hindrance to his career, Antony doesn't attempt to alter his naturally similar expressions or intonations.
"It's like your hair color or something," he said. "It's who I am."
The youngest Alda began acting at age 9, when he earned a part in a television pilot called "Three Coins in the Fountain." He took occasional roles while growing up but was more interested in music and studied composition at Juilliard.
Alda might have stayed with music, had his apartment not been burgled. That incident convinced him to leave New York City. He landed in Los Angeles, where his father was living, and they did several plays together.
"When it came time for me to do acting again, it felt so natural," he said. "The theater has always been a comfortable place for me. I spent all my summers on Broadway. Dad would be in one play and Alan would be in another. I used to hang out with the lighting guys."
In the 12 years since he arrived on the West Coast, Alda has been in numerous stage productions--including "Bouncers" at the Tiffany Theatre and "Delirious" at the Matrix Theatre--and such television shows as "Hunter," "Knots Landing" and, of course, "MASH."
"How Did It Feel . . .?" is the story of an alcoholic teen who visits her sister and brother-in-law in New York. The play was written by Daniel Faraldo, who acted with Alda in a syndicated television series called "Crosstown" that has not yet aired. Patricia Estrin, who was also in the series, plays Alda's wife. Kelli Williams--who has a recurring role in ABC's "Elvis: The Early Years"--makes her stage debut as the disturbed and disturbing little sister.
"It's an emotionally draining play," Alda said. "You have to put yourself through it every night."
And it is another step in the career of a young actor who is trying to establish an identity for himself.
"Perhaps one day Alan will be my brother."
The Gnu Theatre is located at 10426 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Shows are at 8 p.m. and continue Thursdays through Sundays through March 25. Tickets are $15 Thursdays and Sundays, $17 Fridays and $20 Saturdays. Call (818) 508-5344.