Producer’s Corner – How a small theatre like PlazaCo produces a GIANT show like The Scarlet Pimpernel

Several times recently, due perhaps to some increased recognition in our theatrical community, PlazaCo has been referred to as “a big theatre”. These references came as a result of our recent Column Awards as well as our success of being named “Best Theatre Group” in North Texas by the WFAA A-List. We are about to celebrate our 4th birthday and our patronage and talent pool have increased steadily during the course of the 42 productions we have produced during that timeframe.

However, the phrase “big theatre” has given us some thought. Not that we don’t find the reference a little flattering. But to us, a “big theatre” would have to be one where there are large (and perhaps paid) technical, box office and artistic staff. Where the talent, both onstage and backstage, is compensated for their time.

PlazaCo has nearly none of these things. We are a community theatre – and we are proud of that fact. In that regard, we are the smallest of the small in the theatre world. So I wanted to take a second today to write a bit about how a “small theatre” like PlazaCo can produce a GIANT show like The Scarlet Pimpernel.

There are many areas that must be considered with each production. These include: Royalties (the rights to produce a certain title), Music (if the show is a Musical, can a suitable track, or in lieu of that, musicians be obtained), Production Team (the artists responsible for creating and guiding the performance part of a production such as The Director, The Assistant Director, The Stage Manager, The Choreographer, The Musical Director), Design Team (the team responsible for the design aspects of the show such as Lighting Design, Set Design, Prop Design, Costume Design and Sound Design), Auditions and Casting (are you capable of filling all necessary roles with the talent available to you), Rehearsal Process and Scheduling, Cast Relations, etc.

Each production is a massive undertaking unto itself, and here at Plaza, since part of our charter is to be open every weekend of the year, we produce 10 different shows a year. When you consider that another part of our charter is to keep ticket prices as affordable as possible, you can imagine how much begging, borrowing and scrounging that we do.

Take, for example, The Scarlet Pimpernel. The show is set in 1792, during the height of the Reign of Terror in The French Revolution. Already you can tell these are not costumes, scenery pieces or props that we’re going to be able run down to Walmart or the Goodwill to pick up. Each piece, whether it’s a prop like wine tankards, or a costume like Margeurite’s Ball Gown, or a set piece like the footbridge outside the ball – HAS to be believable for the era in which the show is set. One out-of-place soldier uniform, or soldier musket, or gavotte mask and the entire illusion we’re trying to create of 1792 comes crashing down.

We are blessed that hundreds of people have contributed to help make The Scarlet Pimpernel work at PlazaCo. And the truth is, there are thousands contributing at small community theatre’s just like Plaza all over the country. We love being a part of this brotherhood of community theatre’s – pulling for each other, supporting each other when possible and striving together to bring as much excellence as possible to each production we mount.

Here at Plaza, we are in the midst of playing The Scarlet Pimpernel for 19 performances. We are also in the middle of rehearsals for our next production, Harvey, and we’re set to cast our May/June production, Hello Dolly!, on Saturday. We are also about to present our 4th annual “Thank You Party” in conjunction with our 4th birthday on April 12th and we’re looking forward to a summer of kids and teen acting camps as we prepare for our annual Camp Show which is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat this year.

Bottom line, we’re busy. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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