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BWW Review: THE BEST MAN at Madison Theatre Guild

BWW Review: THE BEST MAN at Madison Theatre Guild

While Gore Vidal's The Best Man is nearly 60 years old, the piece remains as validly significant as it did when it was first performed in 1960.

Set in Philadelphia during the presidential primary, two men, one ethical, (if you ignore his "indiscretions") one unscrupulous, vie for their party's nomination for president, while the outgoing president may end up withholding his endorsement of either.

John Jajewski's great portrayal of the classy mature "better educated" and ethical Secretary William Russell, is appropriately muted and subtle, in direct contrast to the louder more insufferable, "state college" educated, self-made Senator Joseph Cantwell (played wonderfully by R. Peter Hunt). Both men bring a stunning realism to their respective performances, pulling the audience from the safely of their seats into the world of politics.

Their respective spouses, the steadfast, Alice Russell (Rebecca Raether) and almost obnoxious, Mable Cantwell (Liz Angle) matched not only the energy of their husbands, but also their morals and beliefs to perfection.

As the play progresses the audience gets a very real view of what happens behind the scenes of the campaign, which often includes a lack of focus on real issues. But this show is not about the issues of the times, it is about real issues, the human issues surrounding not only morality but ethics. Something notably missing in the White House in these last couple of years.

While the leads actors do a fantastic job of bringing the audience into their world, it is Lee Waldhart's portrayal of outgoing President Arthur Hockstader who brings it all home. Watching the President vacillate between both candidates as he tries to decide who to endorse is truly a joy.

This is a timely show with an important message, GO VOTE!!! After you have voted, go see this fantastic show, and the remarkable actors who bring the tale to life. After you have seen this show, go see it again.

When: November 2 - 17, 2018

Where: Bartell Theatre, 113 E Mifflin St, Madison, WI 53703 Tickets: $20. Available online at or by calling the Bartell Theatre Box Office at 608-661-9696

Madison Theatre Guild Presents The Best Man in Time for the Election MADISON, WI - Madison Theatre Guild is pleased to present Gore Vidal's 1960 play about electoral intrigue and political mores, just in time for this year's midterms. At the Presidential primaries in the summer of 1960 in Philadelphia, an "ethical" man running for the Presidential nomination runs against an "unscrupulous" man. Populist southern senator Joseph Cantwell is a "bigot and a charlatan", while William Russell, who prides himself on his honesty, is the progressive candidate, "likable, forceful and humorous." Both candidates try to get the endorsement of the popular outgoing president, who enjoys not telling them which one he'll endorse. Timely & thought-provoking political thriller about ambition, scandal, ruthlessness, & corruption.

The play is directed by David Pausch who recently directed The Drawer Boy (Strollers Theatre) to rave reviews, and runs at the Bartell Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin, from November 2 through November 17, 2018.

Madison Theatre Guild (MTG) was founded in 1946. As Madison's oldest community theatre group, we have produced nearly 400 productions for all ages in our illustrious history. We pride ourselves on being an organization in which people of all ages and experience levels can participate. Whether it's on or off the stage, our members will provide the tools to support your needs to refine your skills in the theater arts. We also pride ourselves on our efforts to enlarge the "community" in community theatre. For more information:

Photo Credit Brett Williams

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From This Author Scott Rawson