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The Tribute Artist
a Comedy
by Charles Busch

COMPANY : The Process Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Onstage Atlanta on Ponce [WEBSITE]
ID# 4892

SHOWING : April 29, 2016 - May 15, 2016



Rita and Jimmy have found the perfect house. It’s spacious. It’s worth millions. It’s to die for.

This comedy is about an out-of-work female impersonator who, when his elderly landlady dies in her sleep, takes on her identity in order to hang on to her valuable Greenwich Village townhouse.

Director Suehyla El-Attar
Christina Amanda Cucher
Jimmy DeWayne Morgan
Rita Topher Payne
Adrianna Cathe Hall Payne
Rodney Nick Tecosky
Oliver Pat Young
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The Tribute Caricaturist
by playgoer
Saturday, April 30, 2016
The characters in the script consist of four biological females and two biological males. The actors playing the roles are four males and two females. Add in a variety of sexual orientations and you end up with gender confusion on a large scale. This is a Charles Busch play, after all.

Suehyla El-Attar has directed "The Tribute Artist" to bring out its comedy, adding lots of humorous stage pictures and keeping things moving in this longish play. Her work goes hand-in-hand with that of lighting designer Elisabeth Cooper, with lighting changes telegraphing characters’ revelatory monologues. Add in Nancye Quarles Hilley’s impressive costumes and George Deavours’ varied wigs and you have good-looking activity on the stage. Dan Bauman’s sound design works in tandem with lighting effects to underscore "moments" and to cover cleverly blocked scene transitions.

The big disappointment in the show is Ms. Cooper’s set. According to the script, this is an elegant house in the West Village of New York City with valuable possessions on display. What the set looks like is a lower-middle class apartment furnished primarily from Goodwill. There is very little sense of style on display. The paintings on the walls are on the elegant side, but nothing else is.

The members of the cast are all fine. Cathe Hall Payne does a nice job as European Adrianna, bearing enough resemblance to DeWayne Morgan’s drag to make the premise of the show feasible. Mr. Morgan is no world-class female celebrity impersonator, but he hits enough of the right notes to get the point across, and provides an amiable center for the action. Nicholas Tecosky is terrific as beau Rodney, hitting lots of notes (menace, romance, comedy) in a tour-de-force performance. Topher Payne is unequivocally the scene-stealing best of the performers, making every moment and line and reaction count. Amanda Cucher and Pat Young are not well-cast in terms of age as a mother/trans-son team, but they acquit themselves well, without providing indelible performances.

The script clearly sets things up in the first act, then seems to lose its way in the second act, padding things so that each act lasts over an hour. It all ties up neatly in the end, with a moment of seriousness capped by a huge laugh. It’s fun throughout, but wanders a bit in the second act until we arrive at the denouement. Ms. El-Attar has generated a terrific production, papering over the deficiencies in the script with comic brio and populating it with a cast for which chewing the scenery barely counts as an appetizer. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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