Archive for May, 2012

Some Fun Photos of GUYS & DOLLS at PlazaCo

Here are some great photos of GUYS & DOLLS which is Now Playing at Plaza Theatre Company. All pix are by Plaza Photographer Ginny Rodgers. Enjoy the pix, then give us a call at 817-202-0600 to reserve your tix.

AUDITION NOTICE for Forever Plaid at Plaza Theatre Company

June 4th and June 5th, 2012

Call backs will be held Saturday June 9th at 9am.

Directed by Kyle and Megan Adams

Musical Direction by Cheri Mega


Plaza Theatre Company pleased to announce auditions for it’s upcoming production of FOREVER PLAID. Auditions are by appointment only. A Call-back audition will be held on Saturday June 9th at 9am.


On their way to their first big concert, a singing quartet of young men – The Plaids – are killed in a car accident. Due to the alignment of space and time, The Plaids are able to return to Earth for one final concert. In between telling the stories of their lives, The Plaids perform some of the greatest hits from the 1950s including “Three Coins in a Fountain”, “Shangri-La”, “Crazy ’bout Ya Baby” and “Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing”. Once they’ve performed their one great show, The Plaid’s happily resume their journey back to Heaven.

Book by Stuart Ross
Musical and Vocal Arrangements by James Raitt


Plaza Theatre Company is a 158 seat theatre-in-the-round located at 111 S. Main in Cleburne, TX. The Company produces 10 shows a year usually in the style of family-friendly comedies and musicals. PlazaCo opened in November of 2006 and is currently producing it’s 49th show. The Company has been the proud recipient of over 25 Column Awards including winning “Best Musical” two years running during the past two seasons in addition to recently being named “Best Theatre Group” by the WFAA A-List for 2011. Further information about PlazaCo is available by visiting


Those who choose to audition are asked to come prepared to sing 32 bars of a song in the style of the show. An accompanist or CD player will be provided but each auditioner will be asked to provide their own sheet music or CD. A brief cold reading will also be required at the initial audition.


FOREVER PLAID will open at Plaza Theatre Company on August 10th and play through September 8th, 2012. The show plays every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30pm with Saturday matinees at 3pm. Double casting of some roles MAY be available to accommodate scheduling.


Francis — The confident leader who has a tendency to hyperventilate.
Voice: Baritone

Jinx — The shy high tenor with recurrent nose bleeds.
Voice: Tenor

Smudge — The not-so-intelligent member of the group.
Voice: Bass

Sparky — The bad-boy of the group.
Voice: Tenor

Members of the Plaids should appear 16 – 28

The Review of GUYS & DOLLS from Sten-Erik Armitage of John Garcia’s The Column

We couldn’t be more proud of our current production – GUYS & DOLLS. Our exceptional Production Team of Director Jay Lewis, Musical Director Caryn Martin, Choreographer Jennifer Leyva, Stage Manager Cessany Ford and Assistant Director Shauna Lewis have delivered a tight, funny, magical riff on an old classic. We are honored to have the hard work of a splendid cast and crew on display in GUYS & DOLLS. The critic from John Garcia’s The Column, Sten-Erik Armitage seems to agree when he says:

“Guys & Dolls is a show that holds a special place in the history of American theatre. Plaza Theatre Company under the direction of Jay Lewis did not merely do the script justice, they performed it with excellence! Shaw, Siler, Phillips and Lett took ownership of their characters, making us fall in love with this comic masterpiece all over again. Once again Plaza Theatre Company, you made me enjoy myself despite the two hour drive!”

GUYS & DOLLS plays thru June 23rd every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30pm and Saturday afternoons at 3pm. Tickets are available by calling the Plaza Box Office at 817-202-0600 or by visiting Now, read on for the full review of GUYS & DOLLS by Sten-Erik Armitage of The Column by John Garcia:

______________GUYS & DOLLS________________

Reviewed by Sten-Erik Armitage, Associate Theater Critic
For John Garcia’s THE COLUMN

“The companionship of a doll is a pleasant thing even for a period of time running into months. But for a close relationship that can last us through all the years of our life, no doll can take the place of aces back to back.” ~ Sky Masterson

With life advice like this, how could anyone pass up an opportunity to see the timeless musical Guys & Dolls?

It used to be if someone would ask me to drive an hour to see a show in a town with less than 30,000 people, I would politely decline and seek out something a little closer to home. But once again, I found myself making the long trek down US-67 on my way to the Plaza Theatre Company. Was I frustrated? Annoyed by having to make the drive? Dreading what might be a painful and amateur performance?

Absolutely not! I reviewed my first show at Plaza back in 2010 when they presented Over the River and Through the Woods. Since that first exposure to the Plaza Theatre Company, I have come to look forward to their offerings. Don’t let the small venue and the drive keep you from a delightful evening! So the question before us now is, how did the folks at Plaza handle the classic Guys & Dolls?

One of the charms of this theatre is how they effectively handle performing in the round despite the intimacy of the venue. (Intimacy is theatre review code for “very small”.) The moment I walked into the theatre I was struck by how Julie Asher Lee and Ronda Shubert transformed the entire venue through beautifully painted murals and set pieces.

Every square inch of wall and floor space was intentionally designed to set the tone for the play. The attention to detail was impressive and effective!

Strength in this production was found in JaceSon Barrus’s set design.
There were a total of fourteen scene changes during the two acts capturing eight unique settings. Using a combination of rotating walls, rolling set pieces, and a highly choreographed team, these scene changes were seamless and effective. To be able to pull off such a variety of scenes with distinction from one another in such a small venue with effectiveness was no small feat. Barrus has a talent for designing minimalistic touches that create a drastic change of scene. Well done!

Guys & Dolls is a script that relies heavily on strong vocals, good comic timing and stage presence. Thankfully Nicely-Nicely Johnson, played by G. Aaron Siler, possessed all three. The show opened with some comic dialogue between Nicely-Nicely and Benny Southstreet, played by Michael Durington. Siler and Durington riffed off one another like a well tuned vaudeville act, and then launched into the “Fugue for Tinhorns”, where they were joined by Rusty Charlie, played by Mark Mckee. Fugue is a musical number requiring some skill from each member of the trio due to the contrapuntal arrangement of the voices. Although it was executed well, Mckee’s voice was often swallowed by the vocals of Siler and Durington. It felt as though each actor was singing lead instead of playing off one another as a trio. The nature of Fugue required each member of the trio to pull back and intensify at strategic moments in counterpoint to the others for maximum lyrical and musical effect. That said, these three men sang with confidence and sold the number, despite the challenge of the Fugue.

After the impressive number “The Oldest Established”, as choreographed
by Jennifer Leyva and performed by the men of the cast, we had our first exchange between Nathan Detroit, played by Ben Phillips, and Sky Masterson, played by Aaron Lett. Phillips and Lett had a natural chemistry and perfect comic timing. Phillips had the intimidating task of filling shoes once worn by Frank Sinatra. I am happy to report that Phillips was the consummate Nathan Detroit! He didn’t attempt to recreate Sinatra’s iconic portrayal, he made Detroit his own, and did so beautifully. Phillips’ Nathan Detroit was a gambling miscreant with a heart of gold with whom the whole audience empathized. When Phillips was on the stage, he sold the scene.

Lett as Sky Masterson was compelling as well. Lett’s strength was in dialogue with his fellow actors. His scenes with Warwick were pure gold, particularly their first conversation inside the Save-a-Soul Mission.

One of the strongest and most consistent vocalists throughout the production was Sarah Brown, played by Emily Warwick. Her pure tone and vocal prowess was perfect for the innocent and conviction-driven sergeant on a mission to save souls. In her duet “I’ll Know” with Lett we could hear that pure optimism and faith in her voice. Unfortunately, the number seemed to be out of Lett’s ideal vocal range so his contribution to the duet paled next to Warwick’s more powerful voice. This contrast was even more noticeable during their duet at the end of the first act, “My Time of Day/I’ve Never Been in Love Before”. Lett was impeccable during dialogue but suffered during the musical numbers.

One characterization with which I wrestled was that of Harry the Horse as played by Daniel Scott Robinson. I have seen Robinson in other productions and know he is a capable actor. In this show, however, his accent and delivery were jarring. Each time he delivered a line it felt as though the momentum of the production came to a halt. The delivery seemed flat, and the focus appeared to be more on maintaining the tough-guy accent he was affecting more than delivering the line effectively. As this was the opening weekend, I am confident that Robinson will come in to his own and fit in with the rest of the ensemble, leaving the jarring moments behind.

The highlight of the entire production could be summed up with one name: Adelaide. Played by Camille Shaw, she was spot-on perfect for the role. At the risk of sounding cliché, Shaw stole the show. She had the audience in hysterics with her characterization of Adelaide. Every expression, movement and interaction was finely tuned for maximum comic effect.

The highlight of the Act One was “Adelaide’s Lament” while the high
-light of Act Two was Shaw and Phillips Duet, “Sue Me”. Simply brilliant. Phillips blew us all away with his vocal and as always, Shaw was perfect in both performance and vocals.

Another memorable moment was the tender “More I Cannot Wish You” sung by Arvide Abernathy played by Jay A. Cornils. He convincingly portrayed the loving grandfather figure to Sarah Brown as he shared his heart with her through song. A beautiful moment.

Two ensemble members, Rachel Hunt and Justin Diyer, had a featured moment on the dance floor during the Cuban nightclub scene.

Excellent dancing—but not just there! Throughout the show these two dancers demonstrated a grace that set the standard for the rest of the cast.

A thread that held the production together (if you’ll forgive the pun) was the excellent costume design by Tina Barrus. All the characters, from the leads to the ensemble, were dressed in eye-catching, period appropriate garb. With the possible exception of the Mission Band uniforms, any of these costumes would have been as at home on a national tour as they were at the Plaza. Excellent work!

One challenge that smaller venues consistently face is that of lighting. Siler and Barrus have this down to a science. When you first walk into the theater, your eyes are instantly drawn heavenward to one of the most complex light matrixes seen in community theatre. The ceiling is virtually made of lights, each with its own purpose. One of these days I need to get into their booth to see their light panel. But the impressive thing is not the ceiling of lights, it is in how Siler and Barrus use that impressive bank of lighting effectively. The lights added to, and never distracted from, the performances of the actors.

Guys & Dolls is a show that holds a special place in the history of American theatre. Plaza Theatre Company under the direction of Jay Lewis did not merely do the script justice, they performed it with excellence! Shaw, Siler, Phillips and Lett took ownership of their characters, making us fall in love with this comic masterpiece all over again. Once again Plaza Theatre Company, you made me enjoy myself despite the two hour drive!

Murder Mystery Fund-Razor 2012 – I Buried An Idol

It’s time again for Plaza’s annual FUND-RAZOR MURDER MYSTERY. Last year’s event was a screaming success as Plaza presented an evening of murder and mayhem entitled I HAVE AN INKLING. This year’s event promises to be an even better evening of mystery as we unveil a fun whodunit entitled I BURIED AN IDOL.

Join our kooky cast of singing characters on the popular (but deadly) reality TV show, I Buried An Idol. Contestants are vying for the honor of being America’s top singing idol – The Next Big Thing. The winner will receive a recording contract with RockStar Productions. The contestants crave fame, fortune, and the fabulous life of a reality TV star. Of course, in order to win, they’ll have to sing their way into America’s hearts…as well as the judges good graces. These kinds of competitions can get nasty – a perfect setting for a murder.

The fun begins when someone is unexpectedly murdered. Who’s the killer? Well, every guest gets an opportunity to investigate, solve the mystery and win the game. There are even prizes for those who come closest to sleuthing out the murderer.

The annual Murder Mystery event also serves as Plaza Theatre Company’s annual Fund-Razor with all proceeds benefitting Plaza’s annual fund. The evening also includes hearty hors d’oeuvres as a pre-mystery snack and dessert at intermission.

Plaza’s third annual FUND-RAZOR MURDER MYSTERY begins at 6:30pm on June 12th. Tickets for the event are $25 per person which includes dinner and dessert as well as an evening playing detective. Reservations are available by calling the Plaza Box Office at 817-202-0600 or by visiting Plaza’s website at and clicking on “Online Tickets”.

So put on your best Sherlock Holmes impersonation and please consider joining is for this exciting evening of mystery, investigation, food and fun. We’d love to see you.

Photos of Plaza Academy’s Spring 2012 Recital

As we’ve already mentioned this week, Plaza Academy’s Spring 2012 Recital’s were an astonishing success! The students and teachers did a tremendous job putting together shows that were charming and entertaining. We loved having these young people here for our Spring 2012 Semester and we can’t wait for Summer Camps to begin. Until then, enjoy these couple of photos of the recital taken by PlazaCo’s resident photographer Ginny Rodgers.

Thanks again to everyone involved for a fabulous Spring 2012!

Plaza Academy’s Spring 2012 Recital Announcement and Schedule

Plaza Academy’s Spring 2012 Semester will culminate in recital performances by Academy students May 7th and 8th.

The Academy has enjoyed an auspicious beginning as we’ve expanded to our semester schedule and taken residence at the new Plaza Academy Fine Arts & Dance Studio. This first full semester has hosted 117 music, dance and acting students which began on January 23rd. And now we are approaching the end of this very successful semester.

The Spring 2012 Semester Recital is open to the public and free of charge. The performance schedule is as follows:

Monday May 7th at the Cleburne Conference Center starting at 7:00 pm.

Classes Performing:
Mini Dance Bugs (A and B)
Dance Bugs
Tap Stars
Tappin’ Teens
Ballet Stars
Ballet For Teens
Audition Prep
Show Stoppers
Advanced Show Stoppers

Tuesday May 8th at Plaza Theatre Company starting at 7:00 pm.

Classes Performing:
Little Performers
Story Drama
Acting for Teens
Vocal Performance

We send our congratulations to the students, their parents and families, and our amazing staff of teachers and administrators on an exceptional semester. We also encourage all who can attend to come see these wonderful students in action. They’ve worked very hard and deserve a whole lot of recognition for their efforts.

As we always say at Plaza Academy – Dance, Sing, Act…INSPIRE!

Announcing the official Cast List for Plaza Theatre Company’s production of FOOTLOOSE

Once again, it was a very difficult process arriving at our casting decisions due to the high number of amazingly talented folks who came to auditions and callbacks. However, here is the official Cast List for Plaza Theatre Company’s production of FOOTLOOSE. (Double cast where noted)


Reverend Shaw Moore – Jay Lewis

Vi Moore – Darcy Farrington

Ren McCormack – Jace Bachman

Ariel Moore – Tabitha Barrus, Kelsey Wooldridge

Rusty – Sydney Abbott

Willard – Parker Barrus

Ethel McCormack – Stacey Greenawalt-King, Heather Morrill

Urleen –  Fatima Rodriguez, Jillian Turner

Wendy Jo – Mary Vickers

Dancer – Faith Brown, Lindsey Spano

Dancer –   Scout Harrell

Dancer –  Teron Jones

Chuck Cranston – Daniel Robinson

Betty Blast – Emily Warwick

Coach Roger Dunbar – John Lewis

Eleanor Dunbar – Heather Aikman

Jeter – Ben Midkiff

Bickle – Stephan Singleton

Garvin – Nigel Barrus, Justin Diyer

Lyle – Austin Swearingen

Travis – Aaron Midkiff, Devlin Pollock

Tag along kid – Cameron Barrus, Caleb Midkiff

Lulu Warnicker – Shauna Lewis

Wes Warnicker – Al Mayo

Principal Harry Clark – JaceSon Barrus

The show will play at Plaza Theatre Company opening on June 29th and playing thru August 4th. It will be directed by JaceSon & Tina Barrus with Musical Direction by Karyn Martin, Choreography by Tabitha Barrus, Assistant Direction by Hannah Midkiff and Stage Management by Cessany Ford.

Another smashing review of THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE from Paul Gnadt of The Star Group – only 2 weekends left!

Another great review of our current production of THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE. Taffy Geisel and her crack production team have done a super job creating a show of joy, warmth, humor and love. We hope you’ll take critic Paul Gnadt’s advice and make reservations soon. 817-202-0600. Now read on for a terrific review:

by Paul Gnadt of The Star Group newspapers

What’s unusual about “The Happiest Millionaire,” the latest production of the Plaza Theatre Company, is that it could have been a musical comedy, a staple of the troupe, but PTC chose to disregard the singing and focus on the dialogue and the acting.

And while I miss the singing and dancing, what “Millionaire” provides is an evening’s entertainment you can bank on.

If you’re familiar with the 1967 Walt Disney movie by the same name — the last one produced by Walt himself before his death — you know the story includes 12 songs, something PTC delivers with outstanding voices accompanied by clever choreography and costumes.

But not this time. After I finally accepted the fact that the butler was not going to break out in song — a brief disappointment because he’s played by Andrew Guzman, who can sing — and a masked hero would not be swinging down from a hidden chandelier, I started to concentrate on the dialogue and follow the story.

Oh wait, there is this alligator. Just watch out and you’ll see.

To my surprise, once it gets going, any musical number would have ruined it.

Stepping in to the lead parts are PTC veterans Luke Hunt, the Joshua-area resident who teaches at Alvarado Junior High, and Tabitha Barrus, the Travis Academy of Fine Arts senior who, little by little, takes on more challenging roles as she prepares to head off to Utah State University to pursue a degree in theatre arts.

Hunt is Anthony J. Drexel Biddle and Barrus is his daughter, Cordelia, or “Cordy.” They’re supported by family members JoAnn Gracey as Biddle’s wife (doubled with Katy Wood), Jeff Loy as son Livingston, Burleson’s Daniel Robinson as son Tony, and Stacey Greenawalt King as housemaid Emma.

In the process of becoming family are David Phillips as Angier Duke and Tonya Laree in an over-the-top and down right funny turn as Mrs. Benjamin Duke of the tobacco fortune.
Alvarado’s Devlin Pollock plays Joe Mancuso, a Penn State quarterback welcomed into the home.

Plaza favorite Trich Zaitoon plays Aunt Mary Drexel, one of those people who always cut right to the core with advice and witticisms.

The story takes place from September 1916 to June 1917 in the Philadelphia home of real life Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, who spread Christianity through boxing and kept alligators in the house. Be sure and read the Director’s Notes in the front of the playbill before the show starts for helpful background information about Biddle.

The story by Kyle Crichon is based on the book “My Philadelphia Father,” a memoir by Cordelia, the character played by Barrus.

It’s a busy house. The patriarch Biddle takes phone calls, gives orders and spars with his two sons (Loy and Robinson) and Cordy, who can whip them all except dad. Feeling like she is being brought up to be a prizefighter, Cordy goes to college, meets Angier Duke (Phillips) and brings him home.

Cordy and Angier plan to wed, although the news at first infuriates Biddle. The biggest challenge for the young lovers will be meeting the other’s parents. Biddle purposely intimidates Angier, but the young man wins over his future father-in-law by taking him to the mat with jujitsu.

The smoke thickens when tobacco baroness Duke (Laree) arrives and is not impressed with Biddle or Philadelphia, which pales in comparison to her beloved New York. When her family and wealthy friends do not receive wedding invitations because Biddle forgot to mail them, the wedding is almost called off.

The acting is good and has to be. The dialogue requires precise timing from everyone on stage, and they nail it. Someone is always saying something and it’s always important to the plot.
Soon, you realize what you’re watching is a refreshing change from the usual PTC production, and it works.

Directed by Taffy Geisel, with another simple yet clever and functional set designed by JaceSon Barrus, and costumes that-also-tell-a-story designed by Kara Barrus, “Millionaire” almost has as much going on off stage as on, thanks to some creative sound design by G. Aaron Siler, all under the stage management of Crystal Todd.

Even the boxing scenes are realistic, thanks to the coaching of Southwestern Adventist University math and physical science professor Murray Cox.

This is a good one. Do yourself a favor and see “The Happiest Millionaire,” playing at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays through May 12 at the Plaza Theatre, 111 S. Main St., in Cleburne.

Tickets — $15 for adults, $13 for seniors age 65 and over and high school or college students, and $12 for youth age 12 and under — are available 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday at the Plaza box office, by phone at 817-202-0600, or online at