A Sensational Review of SHE LOVES ME by Angela Newby of The Column by John Garcia

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We couldn’t be more thrilled by the positive words about SHE LOVES ME by Ms. Newby of The Column by John Garcia. We agree that it’s a delightful romantic comedy with a rich, exquisite musical score. Dennis Yslas and his phenomenal cast and crew have delivered a powerhouse of a show. SHE LOVES ME plays thru September 5th every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Read on for a sensational review review and then be sure to reserve by calling 817-202-0600 or visiting www.plaza-theatre.com

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SHE LOVES ME at Plaza Theatre Company
Angela Newby, Associate Theatre Critic for The Column by John Garcia

She Loves Me is the musical romantic comedy that lends one to understand the meaning of being secretly in love with someone else. As two anonymously write love letters to one another, they don’t realize that they actually know each other in real life, and despise one another. Will they fall in love, or miss out?

The musical is the third adaptation of the play Parfumerie by playwrite Miklos Laszlo. The musical premiered on Broadway in 1963 and subsequently had productions in the West End in 1964. It would surface in 1998 as the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan feature You’ve Got Mail. The musical will also be receiving another revival on Broadway for next season.

Director Dennis Yslas has outdone himself. This show was incredible and I was in awe as I watched all the moving parts come together to produce one of the best shows I have seen all year.

Music Director Cherie Dee Mega commanded the music. Mega highlighted the talent of the operatic cast and used them in ways that had the audience on the edge of their seats awaiting the next score. Each and every musical number was better than the one before it, and while it is easy to start strong, this was one musical that ended stronger than it started.

Choreographer Joshua Sherman did an astounding job with the cast to highlight each of the musical numbers. The choreography only enhanced the show and allowed for the mood to be heightened at every turn. In “Twelve Days to Christmas” the stage held every cast member who worked seamlessly with one another to demonstrate one of the most beautifully choreographed songs in the whole show.

Tina Barrus’ costume design was brilliantly done. The men of the cast were dressed in full suits that enhanced each of their body types and characters personalities. The three customers were nicely dressed in simple black dresses that were accessorized with hats, gloves, and furs. Ritter and Balash were wearing form-fitting flare dresses that were easy to move in and showed the aspects of their characters perfectly.

Set design by JaceSon P. Barrus was the most favorite set that I have ever seen. The attention to detail and use of the space showed his talent. Each and every scene was carefully designed to move flawlessly together in the short periods of time between the scenes. Barrus’s true talent though was shown in the revolving door on the back stage that moves the audience to the inside of the perfumery and outside. Further, the moving display cases were so interwoven within the show that they enhanced every element within the performance.

G. Aaron Siler with light and sound design was meticulously planned and executed. The soft lights with red undertones enriched the love story that unfolded on stage. The carefully selected blue lights during scene changes only made one anticipate what would come next. The use of full spotlights and a dark room highlighted solos and drew the attention exactly where it needed to be. Sound was perfectly matched with the actors’ vocals and never overpowered. Timing was never an issue and the sounds only enhanced the performance.

Property design by Soni Barrus was the epitome of attention to detail. Each and every prop was perfectly selected to show the details of the musical. I loved the antique perfume bottles and powder boxes in the display cases that showed the expensive nature of the perfumery.

G. Aaron Siler, as Ladislav Sipos, did a superior job as one of the clerks of the perfumery. Through hurried movements, nervous gestures, and vocal inflection, Siler portrayed the unease of the love affairs amongst his fellow employees. Siler used a calm, fatherly tone to help George Norwak to take a risk. His rich voice was displayed well in “Perspective” and Siler let his eyes shine with understanding of what love really is.

Arpad Laszlo, the delivery boy played by Drew Sifford was the comedic relief to the musical. Sifford was a joy to watch as he skipped and moved quickly through the set to his next location. In “Try Me” Sifford’s high energy and strong voice fully portrayed the confidence that Arpad had in himself to deserve a promotion in the perfumery. Sifford’s characterization went beyond vocals to his facial expressions, in particular his hand gestures. He was having fun on stage and it showed through his awesome performance.

Paulie Cocke’s portrayal of Ilona Ritter was remarkable. Her deep, rich, and powerful voice was highlighted in her musical number, “I Resolve”. Cocke had huge facial expressions but continued to contort her lips to show either her joy or disgust with a fellow employee. She excelled in this role with eyes that shined with the joy and glamour of a woman in love as well as scorned.

Steven Kodaly played by Joshua Sherman was the antagonist of the employees in the perfumery. His arrogant nature was perfectly displayed by Sherman’s use of lifting his chin, scowls to the rest of the characters, and tone. Sherman’s vocals are highlighted in “Grand Knowing You” through his deep and passionate plea for what is next in his characters life.

Matt Victory was George Nowak, a young man who was unsure of the woman he was in love with. Through Victory’s self-assured stance he proved his dominance on stage. His widened eyes, smile that went up to his eyes, and a shake of his head to show joy was only the start of his amazing facial expressions. Victory really shined through his inflection and powerful voice in “She Loves Me” and was only enhanced with his charming smile.

Mr. Maraczek performed by Jay A. Cornils is the pushy manager of the perfumery. Cornils nailed the haughty air of Maraczek through his arrogant tone and judgmental facial expressions. In “Days Gone By”, Cornils sang from the depth of his soul to capture the moment in the musical. Cornils becomes Maraczek and there is no denying that this shrewd manager was perfectly cast.

Meredith Browning performance as Amalia Balash was simply outstanding. Her mannerisms are warm and heartfelt when dealing with the customers, and completely opposite with Nowak. She had the presence of the girl next door, but the spitfire energy of a prideful woman. Through her simple smiles, doe eyes, and gentle touches, Browning completely encompasses the mixed up feelings of Balash. Browning’s vocal achievement reigns in “Dear Friend” and “Vanilla Ice Cream”, each one expressive and delightful.

The musical was rounded out by a top notch ensemble. Stormy Witter, Elizabeth Shelton, Haley Nettleton, Jake Kelly Harris, and Noah Foster were superb in their roles. Their vocal talented shone in both “Sounds While Selling” and Twelve Days to Christmas”. Each had their own unique style that only enriched the musical.

Plaza Theatre Company has outdone themselves with She Loves Me. With an amazing set of actors, coupled with the talented artistic staff, this performance will be hard to top. Come and enjoy this musical that will remind you what falling in love is like!

Audition Notice: THE ADDAMS FAMILY at Plaza Theatre Company

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Audition Notice:

Auditions are: August 17th and August 18th, 2015

Directed by G. Aaron Siler
Stage Management by Lindsay Hardisty
Music Direction by Doug Henry
Choreography by Tabitha Barrus

When:
Monday Aug. 17 & Tuesday Aug. 18, 2015
7pm – 9pm at the Plaza Academy Studio
211 S. Mill St, Cleburne, TX
Auditions are by appointment only

Click here to make an audition appointment!

AUDITION PREPARATION
Auditioners will be asked to come prepared to sing 32 bars of music, preferably from a musical. An accompanist will be provided. Auditioners should also be prepared to read cold from the script at the audition. Each auditioner should plan to spend about five to ten minutes auditioning for the Directors.

A call back audition will be held on Saturday, Aug. 22nd starting at 9am and may last for up to four hours. Those auditioners who the Directors wish to see further will be invited to the call back audition.

REHERSALS:
Rehearsals will commence Monday, Aug. 24 and take place usually on Mon. – Wed. evenings and Saturday mornings depending on performer schedules. No Sunday rehearsals or performances. Performers are only called to rehearsal if needed.

PERFORMANCES:
The production will play on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and Saturday afternoons opening on Friday, October 9th and playing through Saturday, November 14th.

ABOUT THE SHOW
Morticia and Gomez Addams want to continue living amongst death, pain and suffering the way they always have. But then there is a change in plans. Their eldest child, Wednesday, has fallen in love with a strange boy – who is NORMAL. When the normal family is invited to dinner, craziness ensues. A Broadway hit based on the classic TV show.

ALL ROLES ARE AVAILABLE

* Please note that the age ranges on the characters are for guidance only. Actors who play older or younger will be considered for characters outside their age range based on ability.

Gomez Addams: Male, age 40-59. A man in his prime, of Spanish descent with a wild Iberian passion. Takes great pride in being an Addams and revels in all that means. Struggles with having to keep his daughter’s secret from his wife, whom he adores more than death. Requires great comedic timing and baritone to high G.

Morticia Addams: Female, age 35-59. Attractive, in shape, holds the balance of power in the family; often seems like the only emotionally mature member of the clan. Calls for a sexy, dry wit. Feels her husband is hiding something from her and will use any tactic to lure the secret out. Must be a strong dancer/mover with with lower mature womanly sound (alto/mezzo soprano).

Uncle Fester: Male, age 30-59. Narrator of the piece, has a hugely energetic, joyous childlike presence – totally incorrigible. A vaudevillian-style comedian with tenor vocals, spoken parts and a couple of high notes.

Wednesday Adams: Female, appears 18-19. Strikingly similar to Morticia but is experiencing a bit of a personality crisis. Experiences the youthful drama that comes with first love–Lucas can actually put a smile on her face. Low belt with high E possible.

Grandmama: Female, appears age 102, but a feisty 102. – fun, adorably dangerous, but don’t mess with grandma. Surprisingly resourceful and sprightly. Comedic actress with strong character vocals.

Pugsley Addams: Male, age 12ish. But can be played by older actor – charming, funny, husky boy who loves being tortured by his sister. He wants to ensure he won’t lose his sister to her new boyfriend so he takes matters into his own hands. Lower child’s range or woman’s mid-range.

Lurch: Male, age 35 and up. A very tall male character, the Addams butler who knows all. He speaks in moans and groans (some tinged with irony or exasperation) without becoming a cartoon version of himself. His movement is always very slow. Character actor with a low bass vocals to Eb.

Colonel Mal Beinecke: Male, age 45-50, all ethnicities – father to Lucas. A stuffy military man, a man who must be obeyed, exasperated with his rhyming wife. At one time was a follower of The Grateful Dead but lost that side of himself. Always looking out for his family. Midrange baritenor.

Alice Beinecke: Female, age 40-45. Mother to Lucas. Quirky, devoted to her family, so she puts aside her own desires. At the Addams Family dinner party, drinks a potion that causes her to let her hair down and speak her mind. Legit voice up to G#.

Lucas Beinecke: Male, 19. Fell in love with Wendy and plans to marry her. A writer, classic codependent, feels good when everybody’s happy. Experiences the pain and drama of young love and struggles with the differences between his family and the Addamses. Contemporary pop tenor vocals.

The Ancestors: Male and female ensemble singer/dancers of all types who are smart performers and have a fun, quirky sensibility.

Casting Announcement: POLLYANNA at Plaza Theatre Company

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Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce the official cast list for its upcoming production of POLLYANNA, a play version of the famous book by Eleanor H. Porter, which will play at PlazaCo from September 11th thru October 3rd. The show will be under the direction of Taffy Geisel with stage management by Nathan Glenn. Plaza producers wish to thank all who auditioned for the show.

The Cast of POLLANNA is: (double cast where noted)

Pollyanna Whittier – Emmie Vaughn, Kylie Scarborough
Aunt Polly – Katherine Anthony
Nancy – Christine Atwell
Mrs. Durgin – Priscilla Nix
Loretta – Lauren Morgan
Mrs. Snow – Katy Holt Wood
Millie Snow – Tori Beth Pilcher
Mrs. McCleary – Meagan Avery Sellers, Noelle Mitchell
Mrs. Malden – Ruth Ann Warwick
Mrs. Benton – Julia Ekpo
Mrs. Jack Payson – Gwen Swinehart
Emily Payson – Esther Ekpo
Mrs. Winkle – Helene Cottongame
Jimmy Bean – Henry Cawood
Mr. John Pendleton – Jay Cornils
Dr. Thomas Chilton – Jason Philip Cole
Pastor Malden – Kyle Scarborough, Gary Payne
Old Tom – JaceSon Barrus
Mr. Gilbert – Cody Vernon

Casting News: The official Cast List for LITTLE WOMEN at Plaza Theatre Company

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Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce the official cast list for its upcoming production of LITTLE WOMEN, a musical version of the Louisa May Alcott books, which will play at PlazaCo from July 2nd thru August 2st. The show will be under the direction of G. Aaron Siler with stage management by Cessany Ford, musical direction by Doug Henry and choreography by Tabitha Barrus. Plaza producers wish to thank all who auditioned for the show.

Little Women Cast List

Jo March – Kelly Nickell

Meg March – Haley Boswell

Beth March – Kiley Nicole Pearson

Amy March – Joanna Philips

Marmee – Kathy Lemons

Professor Bhaer – Martin Guerra

Laurie – Jordan Crites

Aunt March / Mrs. Kirk – Christia Caudle

Mr. Lawrence – Burl Proctor

Mr. Brooke – Jake Kelly Harris

Click here for more information about the show or to buy tickets.

Audition Notice: SHE LOVES ME at Plaza Theatre Company

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Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce open auditions for its upcoming production of SHE LOVES ME on Monday June 8th and Tuesday June 9th from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.

Auditions are: June 8th OR June 9th

Directed by Dennis Yslas
Stage Management by Cessany Ford
Music Direction by Cheri Mega
Choreography by Joshua Sherman

When:
Monday June 8th OR Tuesday June 9th
7pm – 9pm at the Plaza Academy Studio
211 S. Mill St, Cleburne, TX
Auditions are by appointment only

Click here to make an audition appointment!

AUDITION PREPARATION
Auditioners will be asked to come prepared to sing 32 bars of music, preferably from a musical. An accompanist will be provided. Auditioners should also be prepared to read cold from the script at the audition. Each auditioner should plan to spend about five to ten minutes auditioning for the Directors.

A call back audition will be held on Saturday, June 13th starting at 9am and may last for up to three hours. Those auditioners who the Directors wish to see further will be invited to the call back audition.

REHERSALS:
Rehearsals will commence Saturday, June 20th and take place usually on Mon. – Wed. evenings and Saturday mornings depending on performer schedules. No Sunday rehearsals or performances.

PERFORMANCES:
The production will play on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and Saturday afternoons opening on Friday August 7th and playing through September 5th. There are no Sunday performances.

ABOUT THE SHOW:
Two coworkers unwittingly meet through a Lonely Hearts column. As the two anonymously write love letters to each other, things don’t go so well at work. Not knowing that they are each others pen pals, their feud at work grows to a boiling point. Will they find out that they are actually secretly in love with each other? The original musical romantic comedy.

CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS:

George NovackMale, mid 20’s thru 30’s – The manager of Maraczek’s Parfumerie. He is desperate for love and falls in love with Amalia after meeting her through a Lonely Hearts column. A likeable, somewhat soft-spoken, unassuming, regular guy. Baritone.  No dance experience necessary but should be able to move

Amalia BalashFemale, 20s thru 30’s – A new hire at Maraczek’s Parfumerie who falls in love with George after the two meet through a Lonely Hearts column. Strong willed but shy. Desperate for a both a job (at first) and love overall. Intelligent, bookish, sensitive but strong. Soprano needing ability to sing long lyric lines beautifully. No dance experience necessary.  
Ilona RitterFemale, 30 to 40ish – A cleark at the Parfumerie. Been through many men and longing for the real thing. Has a revelation during the show that she must change. Sensitive and very likeable character. Somewhat sexy and vulnerable. Often played with a character voice but not necessarily so. Mezzo.
Steven Kodaly Male – 35- 50 – A strikingly handsome clerk at Maraczek’s Parfumeriie. A womanizer and cad. Elegant, refined, self assured.. Actor should be confident in the role seducing women in general, Ilona in particular. Tenor with ability to sustain long lines.
Ladislav SiposMale – 30 – 60  – A compliant clerk at Maraczek’s Parfumerie who will do anything not to lose his job. Can be played slightly buffo but should be real character. Confidant of both George and Ilona. Very likeable character. Regular guy with wife and kids. Baritone.
Arpad LazloMale – 17 – 26 – The bicycle driving delivery boy for Maraczek’s Parfumerie, indefatigable, excess energy, boyish and willing, wants nothing more than to become saleperson at the parfurmerie. Strong tenor voice for one very energetic solo.
Mr. MaraczekMale – 45 – 65 – The strict, stubborn owner of Maraczek’s Parfumerie for first half. Undergoes big change. Stern, playful, vindictive, warm, many sides. Baritone for single solo that can be “talked” to certain extent.
The WaiterMale – 30 – 60 – An enigmatic role for an enigmatic actor. Might be played over the top somewhat, intensely romanticized notion of his restaurant, a thoroughly 19th century character, eccentric. Single scene character but can be great. Tenor
OthersWill need a minimum of 6 (at least 3 women 17 and above) more players to double as characters in the restaurant scene, customers in the shop, people on the street. All must be able to sing well. No dance training needed but must be confident can move well and be taught .

A Phenomenal Review of SHREK THE MUSICAL by Joel Taylor of The Column by John Garcia

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Critic Joel Taylor of The Column by John Garcia has given PlazaCo’s production of SHREK THE MUSICAL a phenomenal review. Tickets for the show are going fast and are available by calling 817-202-0600 or by visiting www.plaza-theatre.com. Read on for a great review of the show then hurry to get your seats to the show.

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SHREK THE MUSICAL at Plaza Theatre Company
by Joel Taylor of The Column by John Garcia

Shrek The Musical is based on the animated motion picture by Dream Works, starring the unforgettable vocal talents of Mike Myers as Shrek, Eddie Murphy as Donkey, Cameron Diaz as Fiona, and John Lithgow as Lord Farquaad.

IMG_3365As with the animated movie, the musical version is also set in the land of Far, Far Away where mythical storybook creatures do exist and are a part of everyday life. The musical tells the story through song on how Shrek came to live alone with no family in the swamp he called home. Important elements early in the story show why Shrek became cynical and chose to avoid others. It also shows how Princess Fiona came to be placed in a castle guarded by a fire-breathing, talking and singing female dragon. Following the storyline of the animated film, Shrek’s swamp home is overrun by a host of storybook characters, including Pinocchio, The Big Bad Wolf, The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell The Gingerbread Man, and many other magical storybook characters that are seeking refuge from the evil Lord Farguaad. With the help of Shrek, Donkey and Princess Fiona, the dastardly lord Farquaad is brought to his knees.

Luke Hunt directs Plaza Theatre’s production in Cleburne. The performance space is in the round, and Hunt effectively uses the limited space and a very large cast to present a colorful, lively, and very popular story. Some of the challenges inherent in the space include using a staging area that, at first glance, appears much too small to use for large casts. However, by effectively using all available entrances and exits, good placement of characters on stage and character involvement with the story, Hunt deftly defies the challenge as he uses the entire area for acting scenes and dance numbers.

Much of the performance in this production takes place in the center area of the set designed by JacSon P. Barrus. The set is largely bare with a raised platform that rotates. There are splashes of swamp green on otherwise black walls. While most of the performance takes place center stage, some of the performance happens in a corner with a doorway that doubles as a castle gate, while another corner is designed for entrances and exits. This area also includes a rotating flat that can be turned to represent different locations such as the swamp, castle, or a town setting in Duloc.

Costuming Costume Designer, Tina Barrus, and Makeup Designer Maria Bautista combine styles in a variety of colors, designs and styles, some whimsical and some practical, to enhance the stereotypical characterizations of the magical IMG_3324creatures in the land of Far Far Away. The costume and character makeup choices are some of the many highlights of the production. Barrus uses the expected dress for Fiona, a shimmering green with regal appearance. Shrek is costumed identical to the animated film version, with loose pants, loose shirt and darker-colored vest. Each of the magical and mythical characters from the land of Far Far Away wears costumes to match their character. Each is easily identifiable and wonderfully stereotypically dressed. Peter Pan is in green with a pointed cap that sports a feather. The Wicked Wtch has loose dark clothing, tall pointed hat and crooked broom, The Mad Hatter comes straight out of Alice in Wonderland, The White Rabbit is in a full bunny suit attire complete with bunny ears, while Donkey wears a grey body suit with tall ears and tail. Lord Farquaad dresses very similar to the animated film, including his tall hat and black wig. As the character is extremely short, the actor wears black leggings and knee pads to disguise his actual height. Bautista designs makeup for each character that also clearly defines each character, from Donkey’s grey face or Shrek’s green face to each of the myriad of magical creatures that we are familiar with from bedtime stories as children.

Lighting Designer Cameron Barrus uses a wide spectrum of colors for the variety of scenes and locations in the story. Specialized choices are made for the swamp, Duloc, the forest, or in the castle with the fire-breathing dragon.

Likewise, Sound Designer G. Aaron Siler provides just the right amount of sound, such as the ogre roars from Shrek, roars and sounds of flame from Dragon and the sounds of birds while Shrek, Donkey and Fiona are on their travels. I did not notice any lapse in sound, and the volume was easily heard and understood in the intimate space at Plaza.

Choreographer Rachel Hunt does remarkable work with the dance numbers in the production. Hunt uses the space and IMG_3285movement to enhance the elements of the story as it unfolds. Whether it is with only between Fiona and Shrek in “I Think I Got You Beat”, or scenes with the cast off characters in “Whats Up Duloc?”, “Make a Move”, and “Forever”; the tap dance sequence with the Rats, or “Freak Flag” and the movements of the Dragon and Skeletons in their respective scenes, Hunt incorporates simplified to complex choreography that makes the audience want to either sit back and appreciate the intricate movements or stand, as young audience members did, and dance along with the characters in the story.

I could write well deserved paragraphs about each actor onstage for this production. Unfortunately, time and publishing space are not sufficient to recognize each of the cast and characters that make Shrek so enjoyable to watch and experience. While there is a moment or two when an actor may not have a complete connection to the character in a particular scene, all of them, leads or ensemble, are actively engaged in the story.

Kelly Nickell plays Pinocchio with a good balance of charm, sincerity and mischievousness. Working with an elongated, expandable nose, Nickell uses a higher pitched voice and body movements to indicate a slight limitation in movement, therefore creating the illusion of being both a wooden puppet and a complete human boy. Nickell’s timing and vocal understanding of Pinocchio makes this an enjoyable and noticeable character to watch.

IMG_3212Teen Fiona is played by Eden Barrus. While only briefly seen on stage as younger Fiona, Barrus carries herself as a young princess. Her vocal skills when singing “I Know It’s Today” or in duet with the other Fiona is strong and pleasant and blends well with the voices of the younger and older Fionas. As one of the performing Blind Mice, Barrus along with LeAnn Indolos, JoAnna Phillips, and Julia Wood, sing and move together as one with a confidence and skill that suggests they have professional experience as a singing group.

Duloc Dancers Kelly Nickell, Cessany Ford, Eden Barrus, Mclain Meachem, Rylee Mullen, Julia Ward, and Ashleigh Moss are seen in when Shrek and Donkey arrive at Duloc. Each girl is dressed in the same style that includes yellow plastic wigs, plastic shirts and skirts that gives the impression they are perfect plastic dolls. During the song “Whats Up Duloc”, the dancers perform well together, working in synchronization, like machine parts working together with limited humanity.

Dashiell Maddox plays Bishop who performs the marriage ceremony between Farquaad and Fiona. His tall ecclesiastical hat certainly has the look of a church official. When pronouncing the wedding vows, Maddox uses a lisp and a voice that reminds me of the priest officiating the wedding in the film “Robin Hood Men in Tights”. While this is a funny choice, his voice, youthful appearance and demeanor are a slight detractor from achieving full comedic effect.

Marquel Dionne plays Dragon. I would assume, due to the space, Dragon is created to be taller than it is long. The main body of the dragon is controlled by a puppeteer. Dionne walks in front of the main body wearing large green and gloves with talons that are painted to look like dragon skin. As Dragon, Dionne menacingly waves her dragon hands as if to warn or attack. The Dragon puppet creation is impressive and will capture attention. Though, when Dionne sings, her rich, powerful and cultured voice will mesmerize and capture attention equally as much. As with several other actors in this production that play multiple roles, Freddy Martinez plays both Papa Ogre and Thelonius. As Papa Ogre, Martinez is unrecognizable in green face paint, funnel ears and the same style of costume Shrek is later seen in as an adult. As Papa Ogre, Martinez physically fits the mold of a large menacing creature. Though, when he and Mama Ogre are sending young Shrek off in the “Big Bight Beautiful World” I expected him to be more menacing. As Thelonius, assistant and right hand man to Lord IMG_3387Farquaad. Martinez plays him with a stoic demeanor and deadpan line delivery, which adds to the humor and counters the sometimes manic actions of Farquaad. . Donkey is played by Jonathan Metting. Whereas a real donkey walks around on four legs, He uses a wide range of body postures, arm movement and vocal variety to make his own the character Eddie Murphy made so famous in the animated film. Metting effectively incorporates non-verbal communications such as a tilt of the head, a stare or a prance, as well as sarcasm, wit, a pleading or indignant tone to be the lovable yet irritating Donkey that a generation grew up loving.

Clyde Berry, playing the role of Farquaad, spends much of his time onstage walking on his knees to give the appearance of a very short character. For those not familiar with this character, Farquaad may be short of stature but large of ego, arrogant, demanding and slightly sadistic when torturing and threatening Gingy (Gingerbread Man) in order to find the location of Princess Fiona. While John Lithgow voiced the film role with sarcasm and droll humor, Berry appears to take elements of Lithgow’s interpretation and adds a little manic style of his own. This creates a very menacing and manic performance of a man that relishes threatening his minions but plays up the outrageous humor of seeing a full grown man pretending to be a powerful, threatening little person. Berry maximizes the comedic contradiction with well-placed manic laughter and a consistent threatening tone. Berry gives the audience a Farquaad that audience children of all ages will love to hate.

The role of Princess Fiona is double cast, Daron Cockerell playing her on the reviewed performance. Cockerell more than fulfills the expectation of how the princess should look. Her long dress shimmers in the light and, for the most part, her graceful mannerisms are of a fairytale princess. The exception is when she wants to flee from Shrek and Donkey as the sun sets and she is delayed from finding a place by herself. It is then that she becomes more insistent as is seen with a stomp of the foot, glare to Shrek and Donkey and much more stern and demanding tone in the voice Cockerell is an experienced actor that skillfully transitions Fiona between the charming fairytale Princess and her alter ego. Watching Cockerell onstage, you well believe that you are watching reality on stage rather than just an actor playing the role of a character.

Shrek is well played by G. Aaron Siler. Ogres are large, green and always scary, that is except when an ogre secretly has a kind and caring heart, which can create a conflict when the mean, rude, green Ogre falls for the beautiful princess. Siler not only accepts the challenge of showing the multiple layers of this ogre, he excels in allowing the audience to see and experience the complexity of Shrek. The scene in which he attempts to explain to Donkey that ogres are like onions is well delivered with an earnestness that gradually transitions to frustration. Siler uses his body actions and certain attitude for his walk, occasional swagger and purposeful strides to convey the physicality of Shrek, while also allowing his voice to carry real emotion. At times, the Scottish accent Siler uses is inconsistent, but this minor flaw is overlooked with the more complete connection Siler has with his character.

The connection between Siler as Shrek and Cockerell as Fiona is apparent throughout the performance. This connection between the characters enhances the believability of the story. One such example is the touching and lovely interaction between Shrek and Fiona during the song “I Think I Got You Beat”, as each tells the story of their life as a child growing up in the swamp or in the Dragon’s Castle. Each actor skillfully demonstrates an understanding of their character to show sadness, regret, boasting, and ultimately empathy and a little understanding of the other.

For those few that have not seen the immensely popular film or musical, you should first watch the animated movie and then experience the musical. The movie includes such great vocal talent and animated characters that entranced the young and young at heart for over a decade. The musical includes songs, dances, choreography and entertaining acting that bring the audience more intimately into the story unfolding on stage. As I was watching the opening night performance, I saw people of all ages in the audience. Some sang along with the songs, and some knew the lines spoken by heart. Several children in the audience had come to the performance wearing a costume of one of the characters while a few of the young audience stood near their seats and danced away. One young Shrek in the audience made his way to the stage and danced with the cast during the closing oung Princess Fionas and a few young Shreks. During some of the dance numbers number.

Plaza Theatre’s cast is very energetic and enthusiastic, and with colorful costumes, some great singing, and talented acting, it all adds up to a lot of FUN. It reminds me of what it is to be a kid again, or still be a kid, and just enjoy a good story with a happy ending. This is a musical that should be seen and seen soon as I would expect tickets to sell out once word gets out how fun it is.

A Fabulous Review of KISS & TELL By Genevieve Croft Of The Column by John Garcia

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There’s still time to catch this genuinely charming comedy. The show plays one more weekend before it closes, and as this review clearly states, “I encourage you to see KISS & TELL at Plaza Theatre Company”. There can’t be any better praise than that. Read on for an outstanding review of the show, then give us a call at 817-202-0600  or visit www.plaza-theatre.com to reserve your seats.

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Reviewed by Genevieve Croft, Associate Critic for John Garcia’s THE COLUMN

First appearing on Broadway in 1943, Kiss and Tell, starring actress Joan Caulfield as ingénue Corliss Archer, was a relative success, running for over 900 performances in two venues. After being discovered by Broadway producers in 1943, Caulfield’s stage career took off, which eventually led to signing as an actress with Paramount Pictures. Shortly after the Broadway production closed in 1945, a film version was released by Columbia Pictures starring Shirley Temple. The film also sparked a sequel, A Kiss for Corliss in 1949.

Kiss and Tell is set in America 1943, in the midst of World War II, when sons, brothers, boyfriends and husbands were off at war. The large cast includes two families and assorted neighbors and friends representing the idealistic view of an American family in the 1940’s. In the midst of such a serious time comes an assortment of humorous and eccentric characters, confusing situations, and quick paced story, the perfect elements to any well-written comedy.

Set Designer JaceSon Barrus nicely transformed Plaza Theatre’s in the round space into the back porch of the Archer home. I was impressed with his attention to detail, using period issues of The Saturday Evening Post to dress the set while also creating a very open atmosphere on stage. I was also impressed with Barrus’ overall vision and design. One of the gems was the use of vintage style posters dressing the walls around the perimeter of the theater. These posters promoted purchasing war bonds or Rosie the Riveter and really set the atmosphere quite nicely. They were reminiscent of tin signs that were popular advertisements from the 1940’s. I loved how something so simple could really draw the audience into the play. There were several playing areas that provided effective stage pictures of a simplistic life when families gathered on the porch after supper, read the newspaper and listened to the radio. It was an excellent way to transform the remaining space into the time period.

Lighting, also designed by Barrus (he certainly has a multitude of talents!), executed his vision of the set design and was also impressive. There are few things a lighting designer can implement in such a straightforward play to represent day and night. However, I felt the mood was established and consistent throughout the course of the play. The only drawback was the long, darkened scene transitions. At times I felt they slowed down the pacing, especially when the comic situations and pace of the story had taken flight, and when the audience was on the edge of their seats ready to see what was happening next.

Assisting the lighting and set, Barrus also carried through with his selection of music throughout the play. I especially appreciated his vast selection of songs. I believe music can make or break a play, allowing the audience to experience the setting, mood and theme of a production. It was nice to hear early Sinatra’s “I’ll Never Smile Again”, “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”, and the quintessential sounds of The Andrews Sisters. It was also nice to hear vintage radio broadcasts of the Gene Krupa Orchestra, advertisements, and the recognizable three note radio jingle of the National Broadcasting Company playing on the radio during the preshow and intermission. It was nice to see something as simple as music make such a lasting impression on audiences when often it’s an afterthought in other productions. As an audiophile, I was greatly satisfied by the library of songs Barrus chose to take audiences back to 1943. As for sound, the actors overcame some issues with the mics early on and were able to adapt quickly to some apparent audio issues.

Benjamin Midkiff designed costumes that were not only period appropriate but had a fine attention to detail. The 1940’s was such a fun time for fashion. Men and women alike dressed more formally, even when merely gathered on the back porch. The hats and gloves, eye glasses and period hairstyles, all added authenticity to the roles. Each costume was visually appealing and certainly complimented the characters portrayed.

Emma Colwell was very remarkable in the role of Corliss Archer. Through facial expressions, voice, and a youthful appearance, Colwell convincingly portrayed the fifteen-year-old school girl who longed to wear rouge, perfume and go on dates with her on again, off again teenage neighbor, Dexter Franklin. For me, Miss Colwell was the epitome of 1940’s adolescence – naive, wide-eyed, and innocent. Corliss longed to be seen as someone older than fifteen, and Colwell played her with seeming maturity, making her humorous situations with her family and friends enjoyable to watch. I also enjoyed the character’s use of word play in the story, Colwell often mispronouncing words and confusing words as an inexperienced child often would.

Another standout performance was Jay Lewis’ in the role of Mr. Archer. Mr. Lewis was convincing as the patriarch of the Archer family, with earnest chemistry between Mr. Archer and his daughter, and between him and his wife. Not only did Lewis come across as the quintessential caring father figure, but also provided quite a bit of the comedy to many situations and scenes.

Overall, the ensemble displayed some excellent chemistry together. Director Barrus’ cast worked well together, both the veteran and newer actors. It was enjoyable to see such talented actors, and was among the best I have seen in a production of this size, as it can be difficult to have a tight ensemble with a large cast. I feel every actor brought an element of importance to his or her character. I enjoyed the facial expressions and line delivery of Cameron Barrus in the role of Dexter Franklin (Corliss’ suitor), and the comic timing of JoAnn Gracey, playing Louise. The ensemble’s youngest member, Joshua McLemore in the role of Raymond Pringle, was another standout, playing the annoying neighbor always looking to make a quick buck. As Mr. McLemore matures and expands his acting resume, he will certainly become a well-rounded actor.

Kiss and Tell is definitely worth seeing. The care for detail is evident in all aspects of the production, and makes for a wonderful experience at the theater. If you are looking for an opportunity to travel back to the 1940’s, I encourage you to see Kiss and Tell at Plaza Theatre Company. To take a phrase from the 40’s, it will certainly be a really “swell” time!

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