‘The Best Man’ Q&A

photo courtesy of Mundelein Theatre

photo courtesy of Mundelein Theatre

Caleb Kowalewski, Staff Reporter

“The Best Man” by Gore Vidal is a political satire play set in the 1960s and was performed by the Mundelein Theater cast Nov. 10-12 as this year’s fall play.

The play was timely since the election results came in the same week, forcing the audience to compare the play to real life political events.

Three of the cast members shared their insights into their performances.  These cast members include Brenden Paul, senior, who played Arthur Hockstader, the ex-president; Thomas Ferro, senior, who played William Russell, one of the candidates; and Hannah Weiss, senior, who played Sue-Ellen Gamadge, a national committeewoman.


Q: What was most challenging about the play?

  • Paul: “The fact that I’m playing someone who is 83 years old and has a southern accent.”
  • Ferro: “Definitely the language– my character is very wordy and uses lots of different political words.”
  • Weiss: “It’s a really long play, and for some people, it’s a pretty boring topic; it’s about politics, so I think the most difficult part about it was to find ways to make it relatable and funny to students and people who weren’t around in that time period.”


Q: What was most fun about the play?

  • Paul: “I loved having a small tight family cast.”
  • Ferro: “It was that really digging deep into the characters and figuring out how they work in the play.”
  • Weiss: “Probably just the whole cast because we love each other, and we’ve all done other shows together, and most of us are juniors and seniors, so we have a really good bond.”


Q: What was the most memorable moment about the play?

  • Paul: “Probably putting the hair and makeup on for the first time because they sprayed my hair grey, and I had the wrinkles, and I looked in the mirror and was like ‘woah’.”
  • Ferro: “I used to pronounce deterrent as de-tear-ant until I was told how to actually pronounce it; it was a little embarrassing for a while.”
  • Weiss: “Probably just growing as an actor because this is the biggest role I’ve had.”


Q: How is this play different from other political satire plays?

  • Paul– “It’s so close to what is going on right now that it’s kind of scary, and I think it’s scary but also kind of cool. History tends to repeat itself, and this kind of slaps you in the face with that.”
  • Ferro– “It’s different since it’s not one-sided; it shows the ups and downs from both sides, not just the antagonist.”
  • Weiss: “This one is really funny and really well-written. Gore Vidal does a great job of subtly incorporating real people of the time into the play as fictional characters without totally insulting them but introduces them in a funny way.”


Q: How do you compare/contrast to your played character?

  • Paul: “I compare to it in the fact that I come into a room and everyone knows I’m there, and I’m friendly with everybody…. I contrast that I’m not from the South, and I’m not one to prod and poke.”
  • Ferro: “(We’re) similar in that (we’re) very morally upright, but (we) contrast because he is very wordy, like our speech patterns are very different.”
  • Weiss: “My character is very old schoolish, and she believes in very traditional morals, and I’m kind of like an open-minded, ‘forward-thinking person’… It was kind of a stretch to put myself in a role as an old-school person.”