Friday, January 25, 2013

Storefront Theatre Shines with God's Man in Texas

Reviewed by Linda Goodman
During the past few weeks, I have learned three things about Waxhaw, North Carolina’s The Storefront Theatre:

1. Reserve your tickets as soon as they are available. I saw a flyer about the show two weeks before its opening, and called for reservations immediately; but they were already sold out. Thank goodness I was close enough to the top of the waiting list that I was able to get a ticket when someone else cancelled.

2. Get to the theater (in the Museum of the Waxhaws on Highway 75) EARLY if you want a good parking place and a good seat. I arrived five minutes before show time on Sunday afternoon, and I was able to get neither of those luxuries.

3. Expect an excellent production. God’s Man in Texas, by playwright David Rambo, done as a concert reading, was so beautifully executed I forgot all about both the parking situation and the seat.

Set in the present in Houston, Texas at the fictional Rock Baptist Church (a mega church that reflects the excitement of Las Vegas as much as it does the glory of the Lord), the play is the story of eighty-one year old Dr. Philip Gottshall, the church’s pastor, and his power struggle with Dr. Jeremiah Mears, a younger minister who has been brought in by the congregation in preparation for the day that Gottshall will no long be able to fulfill his pastoral duties.

Melvin Faris, as Gottshall, expertly portrays the enthusiasm, the skepticism, the jealously, and, finally, the contempt the great man has for the congregation and the pretender who would dare to replace him. “I will go in God’s time!” he thunders, filled with righteous indignation. Clearly this silver-tongued devil plans to go nowhere until his cold, hard body is put in the ground.

Dennis Delamer, as Mears, displays a high degree of sensitivity in his role. He makes it easy to believe that Mears’ faith is sincere, even though he allows himself to be tempted by visions of grandeur for a short while. Mears eventually finds that he prefers whispers, God’s still small voice, to shouting.

Michael Ruff portrays Hugo Taney, a recovering drug addict who is the church’s technical expert, and provides comic relief to balance out the heavy dramatic moments in the play. Ruff embodies Taney with a child-like naivete that endears him to the audience. The audience believes him when he says he could not exist “out there.”

Catherine Smith, whose silky voice can be heard on television and radio throughout the country, read the stage directions will skill and charm.

The show is filled with small details that add a nice flavor to the drama. Broccoli, prunes, and George H.W. Bush are essential to the plot.

Executive/Artistic Director Judy Simpson Cook and The Storefront Theater’s board and stage crew are to be congratulated for bringing this enthralling show to life. I cannot wait to see what they do next!

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