Running December 3-20 in James K. Polk Theater at TPAC, Tennessee Repertory Theatre is presenting David Rambo’s “God’s Man in Texas” with the same actors who played to sell-out crowds when the play was presented in its Off-Broadway Series in 2002. The well balanced cast is comprised of David Alford as Dr. Jeremiah Mears; Warren Hammack as Dr. Phillip Gottschall; and Brian Webb Russell as sound engineer – and sounding board — Hugo Taney. Each actor successfully breathes life into his character, providing just the right mix of human weakness and strength to make each role believable, humorous and sympathetic.
Alford is well cast as Dr. Jeremiah Mears, an aspiring preacher who struggles with some insecurity and arrogance. In spite of his flaws, Alford’s Mears is still convincingly vulnerable and sincere as he strives to hear God’s whisper above the ruckus he finds at Houston’s Rock Baptist Church, the largest church in the nation.
Warren Hammack is brilliantly cast as Dr. Phillip Gottschall. Arrogant, self-satisfied and set in his way, Gottschall is convinced his way is the best way and that he is the best man to helm the church. Along with his wife, he manipulates the people and circumstances around him to bring Mears to the church as his chosen replacement and then turns it into a no-win situation for the new pastor. As the elderly pastor fights to keep his position at the church and to prove he is still as sharp as ever, he earns respect and garners sympathy even as he manipulates those around him. Dr. Gottschall’s wife “Mrs. G.” is not seen in the play but her presence is pervasive throughout the play.
Brian Webb Russell is outstanding as Hugo Taney, the sound engineer for the church and sounding board for the two preachers. Combining the innocent wonder of Mayberry’s Gomer Pyle with the quasi cunning of Goober, I almost expected to hear him say “Shazam!” a couple of times. Hugo provides comic relief throughout the play and brings the plot to an unexpected twist and climax at the annual Electric Light Christmas Parade.
Along with the actors, Gary C. Hoff’s Scenic design for God’s Man in Texas created an effective Rock Baptist Church and helped bring the story to life.
The play delivers an entertaining and thought-provoking look at what might go on behind the scenes at a large church. It does poke some fun at fundamental beliefs and takes a couple of unfortunately predictable pot shots at President Bush while also winking tongue-in-cheek at former President Clinton. There is also a little off-color language and an adult situation which would give it a PG-13 rating.
Performance times are: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday December 7th and 14th and 2:30 p.m. Saturday December 13th.
Ticket prices range from $17-45, depending on performance date and seat location. Student tickets for ages 18 and under are half price. $10 student rush tickets are available one hour before show time at the Downtown Box Office with valid I.D., subject to availability. To purchase tickets, visit the TPAC Box Office (Downtown or at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Green Hills), the website at www.tnrep.org, or any Ticketmaster outlet. Tickets may also be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 615/255-ARTS (2787). For information on group discounts for 15 or more, call TPAC Group Sales at 615/782-4060.
Congratulations to our contest winners, Lisha Donald and Jason Cole, who both won two tickets to God’s Man in Texas!
God’s Man in Texas