Archive for May, 2011

The first review is out – HELLO DOLLY! is not-to-be missed!

HELLO DOLLY! has just arrived at PlazaCo, and will only be playing until June 18th, so time is running out. Please, PLEASE get your tickets soon as demand is starting to exceed availability. Read this wonderful review of the show from The Star Group by Paul Gnadt for more details about the show.

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Published by The Star Group, production reviewed on Thursday, May 26th by Paul Gnadt

It doesn’t matter how many times you saw the film version starring Barbra Streisand, or if you attended one of its 2,844 live performances on Broadway, most of which starred Carol Channing, you will still enjoy the Plaza Theatre Company’s entertaining version of “Hello, Dolly!” playing through June 18 at the Plaza Theatre in Cleburne.

This is one where the behind-the-scenes talent, the on-stage actors and the intimate 160-seat theater-in-the-round can take equal credit for bringing out the best in this classic musical comedy.

Costume designer Kara Barnes has assembled an array of dazzling colors with which to adorn the ensemble, who choreographer Jill Baker has twirling and twisting in a series of dance numbers that require precise timing and the fitness level of a long-distance runner.

It’s amazing how a dozen dancers can make it appear like a score or more are scurrying back and forth, especially in the opening number and in the “Waiters Gallop” at the busy Harmonica Gardens Restaurant, where the wait staff almost catches their breath long enough to belt out the show’s signature song, “Hello, Dolly,” made so popular by Louis Armstrong in 1964 that it knocked the Beatles from the top spot on the pop chart after they had occupied that position for 14 consecutive weeks with three different songs.

The JaceSon Barrus and Parker Barrus-designed sets are Plaza’s come-to-be-expected clever in their simplicity, as are the props designed by Milette Siler, who uses a barrel and broom in one corner and a cash register in another to represent a hay and feed store, and a table with a hat on it becomes a fancy hat shop. Perhaps it’s simplicity out of necessity  because Siler is too busy with her role as Irene Molloy, proprietress of the hat shop where some of the story takes place.

Molloy’s role is double cast with Daron Cockerell, but it was played by Siler on the night I attended. Either way, both have outstanding voices — as Cockerell proved in the lead role in PTC’s recent production of “Annie Get Your Gun” — as does Jonathan Metting, who plays feed store clerk Cornelius Hackl, who falls for Molloy.

Rest assured, the interchangeable Plaza regulars — even if we see them only occasionally such as Solomon Abah, Burleson’s Stacy Blanton, Andrew Guzman and Annalee Herron — are there, but it’s two newcomers to the Plaza stage who are the show’s centerpiece: Susan Metzger and Burleson’s Kristin Spires, double cast as Dolly.

Spires, who is also the show’s musical director and who played Dolly in the performance I attended, has a daytime job as — to no one’s surprise — a voice professor in the theatre department at Texas Wesleyan University.

Hello, Kristin and welcome to the Plaza where you belong. This lady can sing.

The story originally came from a 1835 play by John Oxenford titled “A Day Well Spent.” In 1938, Thornton Wilder rewrote the material in a farce titled “The Merchant of Yonkers,” which he revised and retitled in 1955 as “The Matchmaker.” This became the basis for the musical.

“Hello, Dolly!” is about Dolly Gallagher Levi, a meddling widow in Yonkers, N.Y., in 1880, who poses as a matchmaker on the premise of arranging a marriage between the “half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder (Cleburne’s Gerard Elementary School principal Jay Lewis), and an heiress he is to meet in New York City.

The pompous Vandergelder isn’t really looking for love. Instead, he thinks, “The best way to bet a built-in housekeeper is to marry one,” he says.

However, Dolly has every intention of marrying Horace herself and sending his money circulating among the people, the way her late husband, Ephraim Levi, taught her, because, as Dolly quotes Ephraim, “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around encouraging young things to grow.”

Dolly follows Vandergelder to his store in Yonkers, where she arranges for his weeping niece, Ermengarde (double cast with Scout Harrell and Annalee Herron), her fiancé, (double cast with Andrew Guzman and Daniel Scott Robinson) and Vandergelder’s two young store clerks to go off for a New York adventure.

They take the train back to Molloy’s hat shop in New York, hit the streets for the Fourteenth Street Association Parade, and finally to the most expensive restaurant in town where the staff greet her with one of the most famous songs in the history of Broadway and movie musicals.

Along the way Dolly succeeds in matching up Molloy with Vandergelder’s head clerk, Cornelius Hackl; his assistant, Barnaby Tucker, with Molloy’s assistant, Minnie Fay; and Kemper with Ermengarde.

The two clerks — Hackl, played by Metting, and Tucker, double cast with Michael Sylvester and Stephen Singleton in the show I attended — have a lot of stage time and interact nicely, with Metting doing most of the singing and Singleton doing most of the dancing, including Olympic-style back flips and high kicks.

The main characters and the ensemble, whose members include Alvarado’s Devlin Pollock and Burleson’s Julia Ekpo, Kasi Hollowell and Drew Sifford, present many songs you will be familiar with, including “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” “Ribbons Down my Back,” “Before the Parade Passes By,” “Elegance,” and “It Only Takes a Moment.”

With state management by Stefanie Glenn, light design by Cameron Barrus, and sound design by G. Aaron Siler, “Hello, Dolly!” — the 44th show presented by the PTC since it opened in November 2006 — is a good one.

See it.

“Hello, Dolly!” plays at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Saturdays through June 18 at the Plaza Theatre, 111. S. Main St., in Cleburne.

Tickets — $15 for adults, $13 for students and seniors age 65 and older, and $12 for children age 12 and younger — are on sale 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday at the Plaza box office or by calling 817-202-0600.

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A little taste of “Sunday Clothes” from HELLO DOLLY!

Just wanted to share this fun video from the movie of HELLO DOLLY! Once you’ve loved “Sunday Clothes” come on out to enjoy the play live at PlazaCo now through June 18th. Call 817-202-0600 to reserve.

“Harvey is a good-natured romp” according to Cleburne Times-Review critic Mark Nobles

HARVEY will be leaving PlazaCo this weekend. But there are still four more chances to see the show. You shouldn’t miss it, or so says Times-Review critic Mark Nobles. Check out what he had to say:

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HARVEY IS A GOOD-NATURED ROMP by Mark Nobles. Special to the Cleburne Times-Review

“Harvey,” written by Mary Chase in 1944, is best known for the 1950 big screen adaptation staring Jimmy Stewart as the oh-so-pleasant Elwood P. Dowd. The play’s themes of the importance of friendship, family and tolerance as well as it’s leisurely paced, slapstick comedy are refreshing in today’s over-the-top, frenetic entertainment options.

Jay Cornils portrays Dowd and his unassuming demeanor and understated comic delivery are a perfect fit. Katy Wood pours herself into the role of Dowd’s sister, Veta Louise. Wood plays the social climbing character full tilt but remains in complete control even when Veta Louise is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. While Dowd is the only character on stage for every scene, it is Wood that drives the proceedings and commands the spotlight.

Milette Siler plays Veta’s daughter Myrtle Mae with a ditzy charm and her interaction with asylum attendant Duane Wilson, played by Michael Hatch, is endearing. Hatch plays the hot-headed Wilson with energy and pluck.

Rachel Benham makes her Plaza debut as good-hearted Nurse Kelly. Benham fills the character with charm, sweetness and understanding. Her chemistry with Luke Hunt’s portrayal of young Dr. Sanderson is genuine as serves as a good change of pace from the misunderstandings and slapstick comedy that drives the show.

Jamie Long deserves special recognition for his performance as the esteemed Doctor Chumley. Long charges through the proceedings with conviction and righteous indignation until his character reaches a new understanding of Dowd and his pooka friend, Harvey.

“Harvey” exemplifies the importance of friendship and community. The Plaza Theatre has established itself as a place of friends and close knit community. During one second act black out, when the lights came up several audience members were suddenly wearing pink, fluffy bunny ears in honor of the six foot tall rabbit. To the actors’ credit, no one broke character but it had to be as much of a jolt to them as it was the rest of the audience not participating in the joke. The Siler and Barrus families have built a strong bond between the theatre, its actors and the community. This is a rare thing and both the theatre and Cleburne should be proud of the relationship. I would encourage anyone who has not experienced a Plaza production to hop to it and catch “Harvey” before the end of its run. Find out what all the fuss is about and enjoy this light hearted family entertainment.

“Harvey” runs through Saturday. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a 3:30 p.m. matinee on Saturday. For information, call 817-202-0600 or visit http://www.plaza-theatre.com.

Official Press Release for Plaza Theatre Company’s production of HELLO DOLLY!

Plaza Theatre Company – PRESS RELEASE

Plaza Theatre Company to present Hello Dolly! opening May 20th

May 11th, 2011

Plaza Theatre Company is proud to announce the opening of HELLO DOLLY! on May 20th, 2011. The production will play Plaza’s newly renovated theatre at 111 S. Main Street in Cleburne, TX opening on May 20th and playing through June 18th, 2011. The show will be the 44th produced by Plaza Theatre Company since it’s inception in November of 2006.

“Hello Dolly! is one of those classics of American Theatre that is designed for sheer audience enjoyment”, says Milette Siler, one of Plaza’s Producers. “Whether you’ve seen the show before on stage or on film, or whether it’s your first time to see this story and hear these songs, you’re bound to walk away with an extra spring in your step because the show is just so darn fun”.

Based on the play “The Matchmaker” by Thornton Wilder, with a Tony Award winning book by Michael Stewart and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, HELLO DOLLY! tells the story of a charming widow, Dolly Levi. “What do you do for a living, Mrs. Levi?” asks Ambrose Kemper in the first scene of this most delightful of musical comedies. “Some people paint, some sew…I meddle,” replies Dolly. Hello, Dolly! is full of memorable songs including Put On Your Sunday Clothes, It Takes a Woman, Before the Parade Passes By, Hello, Dolly!,and It Only Takes a Moment. And we are off on a whirlwind race around New York at the turn of the twentieth century, as we follow the adventures of America’s most beloved matchmaker!

HELLO DOLLY! is under the direction of Christine Atwell with Musical Direction by Kristin Spires and Choreography by Jill Baker. Costume design for the show is by Kara Barnes, Set design by JaceSon and Parker Barrus, Lighting design by Cameron Barrus, Prop design by Milette Siler and Sound design by Aaron Siler.

The cast for HELLO DOLLY! is: (double cast where noted)

Dolly Levi – Susan Metzger / Kristin Spires
Horace Vandergelder – Jay Lewis
Cornelius Hackl – Jonathan Metting
Irene Malloy – Daron Cockerell / Milette Siler
Barnaby – Stephen Singleton / Michael Sylvester
Minnie Faye – Tabitha Barrus / Teran Jones
Ambrose – Andrew Guzman / Daniel Robinson
Ermengarde – Scout Harell / Annalee Herron
Ernestina – Stacy Blanton
Rudolph – Solomon Abah
Mrs. Rose – Sherry Clark / Reecea Henderson
The Company – Julia Ekpo / Mary Vickers
– Kasi Hollowell
– Suzi Hanford / Abigail Scarborough
– Tina Barrus / Betsy Wilson
– Caleb Gentry / Ben Midkiff
– Devlin Pollock
– JaceSon Barrus
– Drew Sifford / Joshua Sherman

HELLO DOLLY! will continue the tradition of featuring a special opening night event. Those who attend opening night are invited to a special opening night after party with the cast and crew. Details will be made available to those in attendance.

HELLO DOLLY! will play Plaza Theatre Company from May 20th thru June 18th, 2011 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30pm with Saturday afternoon matinees at 3pm. Ticket prices are $15 for Adults, $13 for Seniors and Students and $12 for children Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 817-202-0600 or visiting the Plaza Box Office between the hours of 10am and 6pm Monday thru Saturday.

The Brazos Chamber Orchestra Fundraiser Gala

The Brazos Chamber Orchestra Fundraiser Gala was held last night (May 5th) and PlazaCo had the privilege of joining with members of the Orchestra as well as performers from the Carnegie Players to present an evening of music from some well known Broadway musicals. The event was a success. Thank you BCO and particularly Dick Helmcamp for giving us the opportunity to perform alongside some terrific fellow artists in the community. Here’s a video with some highlights from the event:

A fantastic review of HARVEY from The Star Group – don’t miss this!

PAUL GNADT

keenestar@thestargroup.com

Would you think it unusual to be walking down a street in town and a 6-foot rabbit, who is leaning against a lamp post, calls you by name?

Elwood P. Dowd doesn’t.

“Why, in a small town, everybody knows your name,” Dowd says.

That’s how Dowd sees it, but no one else views it that way because they can’t see the rabbit, named Harvey, who becomes Dowd’s best friend and constant companion in the warm-hearted, yet often zany and hilarious, comedy that is the current production of the Plaza Theatre Company at the Plaza Theatre in Cleburne.

Although “Harvey,” from Mary Chase’s 1944 Pulitzer Prize-winning play — and a 1950 movie starring Jimmie Stewart — has withstood the test of time and the story line is well-known, PTC still manages to put its unique stamp on the production.

As is becoming expected of the award-winning PTC troupe, set design is as clever as the acting is outstanding.

PTC cofounders JaceSon Barrus and G. Aaron Siler avoid set changes by having Dowd’s socialite home at one end of the stage and the reception area at Chumley’s Rest, a sanitarium, at the other end. It’s a perfect fit for Plaza’s 160-seat theater-in-the-round and keeps the audience close to the action regardless of where you are seated.

The sets are spartan but effective. A desk with two phones, a filing cabinet and one chair comprise the doctor’s office. Two chairs and a hat rack complete the waiting room.

It works.

It works because of the excellent performance of Milette Siler as Myrtle Mae Simmons, Dowd’s unmarried niece who is trying to find a husband but is shunned by potential suitors when they meet Dowd and he introduces them to the invisible Harvey.

And it works because of the excellent performances of Joshua’s Luke Hunt as Dr. Lyman Sanderson and Mansfield’s Jamie Long as Dr. William H. Chumley, the head of Chumley’s Rest.

Hunt plays Sanderson with just the right arrogance of a soap opera doctor who thinks more of himself than he does the verbal affections directed his way by Rachel Benham’s nurse Ruth Kelly.

Long is perfectly cast as Chumley, the world-renowned psychiatrist whose dysfunctional sanitarium allows orderly Wilson, played by JaceSon Barrus (double cast with Michael Hatch in the production I attended) to run roughshod over the patients.

But it really works because of the outstanding performances of Jay Cornils as Dowd and Soni Barrus as Veta Louise Simmons, Dowd’s sister who wants to put him in the sanitarium so she can get her hands on the family estate, of which he is the executor.

In some performances, Katy Wood plays Veta.

Fed up with Dowd’s drinking — he’s a happy, harmless, educated, polite and polished bar hop — Vera decides to commit her brother to a sanatorium.

The fact that Elwood is a frequent elbow bender explains to the townsfolk and his family why he sees, talks to and is always accompanied by Harvey.

Veta uses Harvey as the reason to send Elwood to the sanitarium. But, things backfire when, during the admissions process, she admits that she also has seen the rabbit and is committed instead of her brother.

That’s when the fun starts and the timing of the actors is crucial as people enter and exit the scenes at just the right time to keep the laughs rolling along.

Cornils, more associated with the Carnegie Players and his appearances as Bob Ewell in the recent production of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and as Clarence Odbody in December’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” brings a stylish self-confidence to the articulate Elwood, who says wryly that, “I wrestled with reality for 40 years and I am happy to state that I won out over it.”

Cornils is always well-prepared and his timing and delivery seems to elevate those around him.

In real life Soni Barrus is the mother of JaceSon Barrus, and we’re introduced to Jodie Barrus, JaceSon’s dad, who plays Judge Omar Gaffney, who’s caught in the middle of the struggle to keep peace in the Simmons family.

The always over-the-top Trich Zaitoon is a hoot as Ethel Chauvenet, a socialite Veta is trying to impress.

This is a good one for the whole family, with a message that all of us have dreams and, perhaps, some imaginary friends are better than the people who say they are our friends, but aren’t.

With costumes designed by PTC intern Ashlie Christenson, lighting by Cameron Barrus, sound by G. Aaron Siler, and properties by Milette Siler, and directed by G. Aaron Siler — who makes a brief but important appearance as a cab driver — “Harvey” is presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays through Saturday, May 14, at the Plaza Theatre, 111. S. Main St. in Cleburne.

Tickets — $15 for adults, $13 for seniors age 65 plus, and high school and college students, and $12 for children age 12 and younger — are on sale at the Plaza box office or by calling the PTC at 817-202-0600.

Tickets are going fast, so hop to it.

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Only 2 more weekends to catch HARVEY before he’s gone y’all. Give us a call to reserve today.

A little bit of HARVEY…

HARVEY has currently taken residence at Plaza Theatre Company, and if you haven’t yet had the chance to enjoy this charming story of a delightful man and his invisible six foot rabbit. you are missing out. Here are a few photos of the current production playing at PlazaCo now through May14th.

                                  

By the way, these photos were taken by resident Plaza photographer Ginny Rodgers (Like her work? Like her on Facebook). As you can see, the show is a whole lot of fun with some outstanding performers. HARVEY plays until May 14th on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30pm and Saturday afternoons at 3pm. Reservations and information available at 817-202-0600 or by visiting plaza-theatre.com

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