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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, May 24, 2024

Bartell shines, ’Tribute’ fizzles

For those of you who have never been to the Bartell Community Theatre, 113 E. Mifflin St., you don't know what you are missing. It is a unique venue with an inviting, intimate atmosphere. With only about 15 rows of seats, 15 seats per row, there isn't a bad place to sit in the house. This friendly theater becomes the perfect staging ground for 'Tribute.' 




'We are here because we are all friends of Scottie ... because he made us all laugh,' Lou Daniels (Ed Maxcy) says as the play begins. But this play is more than a tribute; it is the story of a father and a son.  




Manipulating time, the play moves back and forth from the tribute to the near past to tell what the real Scottie Templeton (Lee Waldhart) is like. He is an irresponsible father, a skirt-chaser and a man always ready with a joke. His son Jud (Kevin French) has just come into town and will be spending some time with Scottie before he goes back to school. But Jud is a little uneasy'after all, this is the man who at one time took him fishing and told him funny stories, but after the divorce, seemed to drop off the face of the earth. During the course of the play, the audience is taken on the emotional roller coaster that is the relationship between father and son, complicated by the recent news that Scottie has leukemia. It seems it is now or never, either repair the damage before it is too late, or throw in the towel. They decide to work on it, and in the end, they seem on their way to a somewhat normal relationship. 




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Waldhart does an excellent job of creating a powerful character, however, when he must finally break down emotionally, he does not build upon his lines for a natural progression. French plays the conflicted son very well and has a very natural aspect to his performance, but he could not quite match up to the bravado of Waldhart. Scottie's ex-wife and Jud's mother, played by Kathleen Tissot, unfortunately does not have a very strong stage presence. One wonders what aspect of her personality Scottie was attracted to. Ed Maxcy is the only other actor who has the same energy as Scottie, and he and Waldhart have a great chemistry. There really is a sense that they have been friends for 40 years.  




April Countryman plays Sally Haines, the girl Scottie is trying to set Jud up with. 'Are you an actress'? Scottie asks her. Sadly, Countryman is not. Karen Michelle Saari, who plays Hilary, a hooker Scottie used to frequent, is quite good, though she did have some problems getting into her accent. Gloria Pickard plays Dr. Petrelli, who has been Scottie's physician for many years. She is icy and direct, and again one wonders why Scottie is so taken with her. 




The set design is homey, the lighting is warm and the direction (by Don McCoy) is good. Although 'Tribute' was not a spectacular production and the audience did not walk away from this play with a renewed spirit, it was a good chance to experience some of the theater Madison has to offer.  




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