“God’s Man in Texas,” the second student-directed shows being featured by the Sam Houston State University Theatre Department this week, will leave the audience feeling satisfied as well as enlightened.
Director and senior musical theatre major Michael Mora has produced a play that not only showcases the exceptional abilities of the actors but also showcases his own talents as a director. Mora works with the small cast, clearly building relationships and connections that become completely apparent to the audience as the emotional weight of the play is presented.
“God’s Man in Texas” is a full-length drama filled with pride, tension, acceptance and faith. Following the story of three men and their relationship to the Rock Houston Baptist mega church, as well as their relationships to each other.
Christopher Preslar, senior theatre major, plays Phillip Gottschall, the 81-year-old head pastor of the church. Preslar portrays Gottschall with vigor and strength, beautifully displaying his insistence and stubbornness to remain in control of his church and congregation. Preslar plays an 81-year-old man very convincingly with specific mannerisms that make it impossible for the audience to be reminded that he is actually a college-aged student.
Junior mass communication and theatre major Jacob Spadie is cast as Jeremiah Meers, a docile forty-something pastor who has worked very hard over the years to build his own church and congregation but has dreamt of preaching from Gottschall’s pulpit since he was a child. Spadie’s interpretation of the role makes Meers out to be an extremely likable character to whom many audience members may relate.
Swayde McGaughey, junior theatre major, plays Hugo Taney, a thirty-something reformed Christian who has turned from his former sinful ways and now works as the audio and visual operator for the mega church.
McGaughey plays Gottschall’s right-hand man as a relatable, likeable character who is humbled by his past yet not ashamed of it. McGaughey gives a convincing and powerful portrayal of a man desperate to completely leave behind his past as well as learn from it.
As an ensemble, the cast is overflowing with raw emotion and power, where the stakes and motivation are clearly defined in each and every scene. The brilliantly characterized cast members adopted certain mannerisms and habits that were consistent throughout the entire show.
Scene transitions ran seamlessly and the crew banded together as a working machine making nearly flawless lighting and sound cues. The minimalistic set along with few props and costume changes allowed the cast to bring their creativity to the stage with no need for extravagant sets and special effects. The acting truly was the performance.
Although the play is lengthy, audiences will be moved and inspired by simply listening to the words being spoken and allow themselves to be captivated by the programs beautiful writing.
Director Michael Mora has surely proved himself to be an extremely talented and promising director with his work on “God’s Man in Texas”.