Richard Marsh/Dearborn Press and Guide/May 18, 1989
We have all been to parties attended by bores who continually drink and whose conversation is tolerable for only a few minutes. The characters in “That Championship Season,” staged last weekend by Henry Ford Community College, recalls vivid memories of people such as these, thanks to some effective acting by the cast and the first-rate direction of George Popovich.
The actors brought enough emotion and realism to their roles so the audience hated the characters, but still felt for them and their problems.
“That Championship Season,” a three-act Pulitzer-Prize-winning play by Jason Miller, is about the 20th annual reunion of the players and coach of a state champion high school basketball team. The team members have been trying to recapture that long lost magic every year. Their lives are phony: a cheat just as we find out the state title was a cheat. The most sober attitude of the situation comes from the alcoholic Tom Daley.
The most powerful performance was that of John Ecclestone II as the antique coach, old both in age and ideas. Ecclestone brought had a special air about him which made the audience respect the father figure in the character, but still despise him for his beliefs. Gregory Mitchell as Tom Daly’s brother James also gave a strong performance. Although like the rest of the cast, he started a little slow, his characterization improved as the play progressed. By the end of the second act, he made you want to reach out and help him, in spite of James Daly’s shortcomings. Victor G. Bidini as Phil Romano had his moments of stellar acting as well, particularly towards the end of the evening when his role called for great emotion. Daniel Taylor may have underplayed his part as Tom Daly somewhat, but this is better than ending up overplaying the drunken character, which could have destroyed the entire mood of the play. This show did not seem to be Randal Kuzdak’s best portrayal. Kuzdak has done some magnificent work on the Henry Ford stage, but this role did not seem to fit him. He was unable to achieve a total sense of believability in his character.
In Fall, HFCC will stage the comedy “Room Service,” scheduled for December. The spring musical will be “Little Shop of Horrors.” Preproduction meetings are already scheduled. Working on stage or behind the scenes on these shows require taking the appropriate theatre classes at HFCC.
- The Coach: John Ecclestone II
- Tom Daley: Daniel Taylor
- George Sikowski: Randal Kuzdak
- James Daley: Gregory Mitchell
- Phil Romano: Victor G. Bidini