Thursday, November 20, 2014

Q & A with Director Scott Tramel

An Interview with Scott Tramel
By Don Redman

King Perseus XLIV Scott Tramel strikes a royal pose.
(Photo source | The Times-Picayune)
From an early age Scott Tramel was a fan of acting from an audience members perspective, but  it wasn't until after college that he really got involved in theater.

“I was living near Laurel, Miss. and friends asked me to try out for a play,” he recalls. “It was Mister Roberts, which is a heavy male cast, and, as with most productions at little theaters, there was a lack of men trying out -so I easily got a part.”

He acted in a couple more plays, worked as an assistant director, helped with lighting and was even elected to the theatre’s board of directors. 

A change in jobs eventually brought him brought him to the Northshore.

“I worked with Gary Darnell, who was heavily involved with SLT and who produced some dinner theater.  I did a couple of murder mysteries with him, which is where I met my wife Christine (Barnhill).  She is a huge supporter of SLT- so that makes me a huge supporter. For a couple of years I was known as Mr. Barnhill because Christine is so well known in the area.”

Scott also acted at the former Ricky Luke's Brisket and Broadway Dinner Playhouse including a role in The Bible: Complete Word of God (abridged), and as a Spanish pilot in the female version of The Odd Couple. He also volunteered at SLT as a show producer and assistant director. But most of the time, he says, he was perfectly content to limit his theater participation as an audience member.
Scott Tramel, left, with Paul Page and Rickie Luke.

At his wife’s urging, he ran for a position on the board and served as the chairman of Hospitality and later as board president. It was sometime during that time, he says, that he “began to be called Scott Tramel instead of Scott Barnhill.”

Scott agreed to take a break from rehearsals for A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas, to tell us more about him.

Q: What was your earliest involvement in theatre?

TRAMEL: In 2nd grade there was a little presentation we did for the parents.  It was the typical thing with all of the kids standing on stage and singing. The theme was Hawaii and we sang about poi and grass shacks. Several kids had individual parts to say and I was one of them, I think because I pestered the teacher until she gave in. Well, I said my part and was so excited that I had finished it that I started applauding myself until I realized what I was doing. Quite embarrassing. 

Q: What attracted you to theatre to begin with? 

TRAMEL: By nature I am an observer and usually do everything I can to not volunteer but when there was a need for male cast members at Laurel Little Theater I joined in. I'm sure drinking was involved. My rationale was that if I was enjoying the plays then I should do my part to help out. So I got involved due to my twisted sense of community duty.

Q: What is it about theatre that holds your interest today?

TRAMEL: I like being entertained plus I'm incredibly lazy so my main interest comes from being in the audience. 

Q: What are five plays that you’ll never forget and why?

TRAMEL: I saw a production of The Bad Seed at Le Chat Noir that was mostly men in drag. They hardly changed a line but it was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. They over did all the acting and this play turned from being about a little girl that is killing people to a play about drinking and bad parenting. 

Spamalot. I am a Monty Python fan and this musical has some of their most clever and witty jokes. Christine is not a fan but it had Tim Curry in it so she agreed to go.  We both loved it. 

Peace, Love and Murder. It was a murder mystery and that was where I met my beautiful wife. I don't think it was a very well written play but it was one of those great pivotal moments of my life.

WOLF NOTE - Scott's wife Christine, far left,
in Donald G. Redman's adult comedy
Who's Afraid of Virginia's Wolf Note?
with David Jacobs, Fred Martinez and the late
Rita Stockstill O'Sullivan
Who's Afraid of Virginia's Wolf Note. This probably seems like a huge kiss up since the person asking me these questions wrote it. But this was the first play that I saw that was funny and entertaining that was written and performed by local talent. 

Wicked. I lucked into getting tickets 3rd row center on Broadway and it was impressive.  The costumes, sets and singers were incredible. That production really transformed the stage into a different world.

Q: What play do you think people should see, but probably haven’t?

TRAMEL: I guess I should say Waiting for Godot or The Birds by Aristophanes which are two very good plays but for me I think everyone should jump at the chance to see Shakespeare performed on stage. I know folks think that it is inaccessible because of the language but if it is well produced the language is part of the beauty.  If I have to pick one I would suggest Othello.  Iago is such a horrible manipulator, he lies and cheats and is so evil that you can't look away.

Tramel's humor is infectious
Q: What was the oddest play you ever saw, directed or starred in?

TRAMEL: I was in a play called Here We Sit that had one scene with a bunch of stuffed animals sitting on chairs facing the audience while classical music played. That was the whole scene.  Very strange. 
Q: What was the best advice you ever received about acting?

TRAMEL: Listen and react. Actors should hear the dialog like it is their first time and the reaction should be true to their character. 

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