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Tribute Scotty Templeton, an over-the-hill actor and producer who has failed as a family man, is visited by his semi-estranged son, Jud, as they struggle to build a relationship. Scotty has just received some very bad news about his health. Scotty is glib, self-centered, lascivious and also warm-hearted, loyal, talented and always ready with a quip to avoid seriousness. Jim Salners, a gifted actor with great range and versatility, portrays Scotty, a demanding role that has him onstage almost the entire time. Salners finds his rhythm and his heart, but never locates the soul playwright Bernard Slade failed to provide — Slade has written a buffoon, a clown, not a man we could admire. The strong supporting cast includes Elizabeth Marshall Black as Hillary, hooker turned travel agent. Black is gorgeous, with acting chops as well. Nicky Mondellini plays the very attractive Maggie, Scotty's ex-wife and the mother of Jud, and she is excellent. Jami Hughes plays Dr. Gladys Petrelli, trim and sophisticated, who attempts to persuade Scotty to undergo treatment. Scotty's best friend Lou Daniels is played by Jeffrey S. Lane, who is persuasive in his scenes with Scotty and Jud but speaks too slowly. As Jud, Kyle Cameron finds the right balance between rebellion and concern, conveying the awkwardness of youth and its tyrannical judgments. Katrina Ellsworth plays Sally, a young girl Scotty tries to interest Jud in, and she sounds all the right notes, creating an attractive, shrewd, likable character. The final scene, as the son and father embrace at the tribute, is heartwarming and well worth waiting for in a play that badly needs trimming. An interesting and multitalented production comes within striking distance of solving the play's inherent problem of having a buffoon at its core. Through May 26. Texas Repertory Theatre, 14243 Stuebner Airline Rd., 281-583-7573. — JJT

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