Archive for February, 2013

The Official Press Release for [TITLE OF SHOW] APROPOS at Plaza Theatre Company

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Plaza Theatre Company – PRESS RELEASE

Plaza Theatre Company to present the recent Broadway smash hit [TITLE OF SHOW] APROPOS opening March 15th, 2013

February 28th, 2013

Plaza Theatre Company is proud to announce the opening of [TITLE OF SHOW] APROPOS on March 15th, 2013. The production will play Plaza’s newly renovated theatre at 111 S. Main Street in Cleburne, TX opening on March 15th and playing through April 13th. The show will be the 62nd produced by Plaza Theatre Company since it’s inception in November of 2006.

Hunter and Jeff, race against a deadline to enter an original musical into a theatre festival. Eventually Jeff suggests they write about what to write about and they make a pact to write until the festival deadline and dream about how the show will change their lives. One of Broadway’s most original musicals, [TITLE OF SHOW] APROPOS depicts their journey as they write a musical about writing a musical. With music and Lyrics by Jeff Bowen and a book by Hunter Bell, this production promises to be one of the most unique ever produced on the Plaza stage to date.

**Please note – The “Apropos” (or clean version) has been modified from the original by the authors for general audiences.

The Cast List for [TITLE OF SHOW] APROPOS is: (Double Cast where noted)

Hunter – Jonathan Metting
Jeff – David Cook
Susan – Milette Siler
Heidi – Daron Cockerell, Caitlan Leblo

The production is under the Direction of G. Aaron Siler with Musical Direction by Diane Stewart and Stage Management by Lindsay Hardisty. The show will open on Friday March 15th at 7:30pm and will then play every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening thru April 13th at 7:30pm with Saturday matinees every Saturday afternoon at 3pm. Ticket prices are $15 for Adults, $14 for Seniors and Students and $13 for Children.

Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 817-202-0600, by visiting http://www.plaza-theatre.com or visiting the Plaza Box Office between the hours of 10am and 6pm Monday thru Saturday.

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Casting Announcement: PILLOW TALK

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Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce the official Cast List for it’s upcoming production of PILLOW TALK. The cast is listed below with doubles noted:

Jan – Kristi Mills, Joy White

Brad – David Goza

Jonathan – Michael Hatch, Eliot Irish

Alma – Amy Wolff Sorter

Eileen, Miss Dickinson, Marie, Tilda – Stefanie Glenn

Tony – John Lewis

Mr. Pierot – Steven Lindsay

Mr. Conrad, Mr. Graham – Jay Cornils

Mrs. Walters – JoAnn Gracey

a policeman, Burt – Justin Diyer, Devlin Pollock

Supervisor, Yvette, Girl in Club – Tabitha Barrus, Amberli Cross

PILLOW TALK will play at Plaza Theatre Company from April 19th thru May 11th. The play is being directed by JaceSon P. Barrus with assistant direction by Jamie Long and stage management by Cessany Ford. Tickets are available by calling the PlazaCo Box Office at 817-202-0600 or by visiting www.plaza-theatre.com

A very fine critique of THE SOUND OF MUSIC from Kristy Blackmon of The Column by John Garcia

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THE SOUND OF MUSIC has received another solid recommendation – this from Kristy Blackmon of The Column by John Garcia. Tickets for the show are going extremely fast, but there are still some dates with availability. The show plays Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30pm and Saturday afternoons at 3pm THROUGH MARCH 9th. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made by visiting www.plaza-theatre.com or by calling 817-202-0600. Now read on for a very fine review of the show:

_______________________THE SOUND OF MUSIC_________________________

Reviewed by Kristy Blackmon, Associate Theater Critic
for John Garcia’s THE COLUMN

I’m not sure if there’s a musical out there more beloved by audiences everywhere than The Sound of Music. We grew up singing it. The role of Maria, originated on stage by the late Mary Martin and on film by the incomparable Julie Andrews, is familiar to generations of musical theater lovers. It pits nuns against Nazis, and the nuns win. An innocent young ingénue melts the ice cold heart of a widower naval captain. And above all, it revolves around seven adorable and charming children who steal your heart with songs that stay in your head forever.

It’s a huge show and there’s no escaping that. It isn’t a show that can be done in a minimalistic style. The settings range from mansions to abbeys to actual mountainsides and the cast is unavoidably large. There are nuns and novices, Nazis and Hitler’s youth, Austrian gentry and common folk. There are elaborate puppet shows and ballroom scenes with couples dancing the Lindler and music festivals in Salzburg. So it isn’t exactly the most logical choice for a small theater-in-the-round in Cleburne, Texas. Still, if any such theater could pull it off, it’s Plaza Theatre.

And for the most part, they do, mainly through brilliant direction from team of Jodie and Soni Barrus, and their smart casting of the seven Von Trapp children and Meredith Browning as Maria. Browning is utterly charming and perfectly idealistic. Her enthusiasm is catching, and her energy is unflagging. Through the first act, which has almost non-stop song after song for her and the Von Trapp children, she holds the show together with her youthful passion and sense of fun. She does not do it alone, however. A huge round of applause should be given to the seven child actors who play Captain Von Trapp’s children. They are talented, well-rehearsed, and utterly loveable from the first time they are introduced until they bravely prepare for their march over the Alps into Switzerland to escape the Nazis at the show’s close.

In fact, I didn’t fully recognize their contribution until the second act. This is where the limitations of Plaza’s small space are most evident Plaza’s transitions are seamless, like masterfully choreographed dances. Set Designer JaceSon P. Barrus performed wonders. The flowers and boulders of the Austrian Alps make way for the stark and religious confines of the Abbey, which in turn morphs into the sumptuous parlor of the Von Trapp mansion.

There are the gardens, both the terrace where the machinations of Frau Schraeder and Max Detweiler play out as well as the infamous solarium where Liesl and Rolf sweetly sing “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” There is the ballroom where the Austrian nobility dance while Nazi Germany steals control of their country out from under them, and the Captain and Maria fall in love while teaching the Lindler to Kurt; the exterior churchyard of the Abbey where the Von Trapp family hides from the pursuing German soldiers; the grand Abbey interior where the Captain and Maria are married; Maria’s bedroom which appears only for one pivotal scene during which the unforgettable “Raindrops on Roses” is sung and she devises her plan to make play clothes for the children out of her curtains. The sets are impeccable and the transitions unimpeachable.

However, there is something lost in every blackout, even when the recorded orchestra never skips a beat, thanks to Sound Designer G. Aaron Siler. The first act of the show is a constant tease, pulling the audience in and then letting them go during another scene transition. In a larger space, one part of the stage can fade to black while the lights come up on another part, on another set and another scene. In a space as small as the Plaza, though, the only option is constant blackouts, and it unfortunately affected the pace of the show negatively, though not enough to detract from the audience’s enjoyment.

Adding to the technical excellence is Tina Barrus’ costumes. I don’t know how the Plaza does it, but every time I see a show at this tiny theater out in the Texas prairie, I am blown away by the costumes. Barrus surpasses anything I’ve yet seen there. The nuns, the aristocrats, the Nazis, and the servants are period perfect and beautifully clothed. The costumes of the Von Trapp children, especially, are supremely clever and masterfully executed. Their first appearance in matching uniforms gradually gives way to the play clothes Maria crafts for them from curtains, and eventually to outfits specific to each child.

Where they are identical when we first see them, by the second act they each have their own personality shining through in their costumes.

Even when the script necessitates they be dressed similarly, such as their performance at the music festival or the Von Trapp wedding, the costumes are beautifully designed and crafted. Maria’s wedding dress is exquisite, managing to be both opulent and modest at the same time, and Georg, appearing for the first and only time in his captain’s uniform, is absolutely dashing. It’s early in the season still, but I can’t imagine not giving a nod to Tina Barrus when it’s time for next year’s Column Award nominations.

The musical aspect of this show is phenomenal. The nuns, led by Kathy Lemons as the Mother Abbess, have an almost transcendent quality to their a cappella numbers, and the classic “(How Do You Solve a Problem Like) Maria” is perfectly harmonized. One or two of the sisters were suffering from the allergy epidemic that’s plaguing most of North Texas at the moment, but apart from a few missed notes in the higher registers, there were few missteps. Lemons is superb. Her clear soprano, though it lacks the power the role ideally calls for, carries beautifully.

The other supporting singers are equally talented. Tabitha Barrus as Liesel has some difficulty with the higher register notes in “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” but overall she and Robert Twaddell, who plays Rolf, give high-caliber and heart-warming performances. When JaceSon P. Barrus as Georg Von Trapp sings, his resonant baritone carries a haunting type of authority that goes perfectly with the role. His rendition of “Edelweiss” won’t soon be forgotten.

Meredith Browning is a great casting choice for Maria. Though she has some difficulty in that awkward place between chest and head voice in some numbers, namely the title song “The Sound of Music,” her talent is undeniable. Her voice plays over the notes of “Do Re Mi” with abandon and yet softens with husky undertones during the love ballad “Something Good” with Captain Von Trapp. Yet nowhere does she shine more than when performing with the seven Von Trapp children. I cannot say enough about this troop of youngsters, whose harmony never falters and energy never wavers.

Over and over again in my notes I used the word “charming”, yet they go beyond charming. They are enchanting, especially Miranda Barrus as young Gretel. The role is designed to warm the hearts of the audience, but it isn’t without its demands. She has a good amount of lines, numerous group numbers, and several important solo bits that have to be dead on, and Miranda pulls them all off. Kudos to her, and I look forward to seeing her in many area shows in the future.

The musical talents and charm of Maria and the children carry the first act. In the second act, with the pressure from the Germans affecting the business and love lives of Captain Von Trapp and his companions, the adults are finally called upon to act. Unfortunately, they are not half as successful as their younger counterparts. Without the music to hide behind, they are awkward and stilting.

Even the production elements, to this point impeccable, seems to suffer along with them as sound problems suddenly emerge – characters are left to speak their lines without working microphones – and bulky set pieces inexplicably block the view of entire segments of the audience; an inexcusable design problem for theater-in-the-round. The chemistry between JaceSon P. Barrus as Georg and Browning as Maria is so non-existent as to border on uncomfortable during their love scenes, and the awkwardness during the closing scene when the family escapes into the mountains is almost oppressive. It’s too bad that the show ends on a low note because I was thoroughly impressed through the majority of it.

Maybe Plaza overreached a little, staging such a huge show in such a small space; the curtain call alone took up nearly their entire stage, without exaggeration. But I can’t imagine any small theater-in-the-round staging The Sound of Music more successfully, and as always, their production elements are exceptional and their dedication to rehearsing until achieving perfection is evident. Overall, this is another success for Plaza Theatre, and I can’t wait to see their next production.

The Star Group’s Review of THE SOUND OF MUSIC

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Paul Gnadt of The Star Group has written a stellar review of PlazaCo’s production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC. We are very proud of the hard work and excellence of our wonderful cast and crew. We congratulate them for their fantastic work and encourage you to please reserve soon. The show plays through March 9th. Call 817-202-0600 or visit www.plaza-theatre.com – here’s the review:

_______________________________________________________________

THE SOUND OF MUSIC at Plaza Theatre Company
by Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers

“How do you solve a problem like Maria?” is the question asked in one of the more catchy songs from “The Sound of Music.” Certainly you remember it from the movie, the song where the all the nuns in the abbey and Mother Abbess, the part played on screen by Peggy Wood, wonder what to do about Maria, the bubbly optimistic sister in the role that belongs forever to Julie Andrews.

LaendlerAnd that’s the challenge facing the producers at the Plaza Theatre Company: What do to about Maria? Since everyone has seen the movie multiple times, how can they even come close to recreating on stage a level of performance the audience expects from what they witnessed on film?

Easy. Well, easy for the creative and talented people at the Plaza: Design simple sets that allows the audience to use its imagination to fill in the gaps (a window scene of the Alps does the trick, just like a bed creates a bedroom and a desk turns into an office), and include a cast whose singing voices are just as good as those in the movie.

In Maria’s case, maybe even better, as the strong, clear and beautiful voice of Meredith Browning has you quickly forgetting any comparisons to Andrews as she and PTC’s excellent cast deliver a thoroughly enjoyable performance of “The Sound of Music,” playing through March 9 at the Plaza Theatre in Cleburne.Meredith as Maria

Counting all the speaking parts, singers in the nuns’ chorus and townspeople, there are about 41 actors in the production and another 12 behind the scenes. However, the stage success of the Von Trapp family in this one is directly due to the Barrus brood, as seven of ‘em play key parts on stage and behind the scenes, starting with patriarch Jodie and matriarch Soni as co-directors.

Soni also serves as music director and head seamstress (yes, the curtains from Maria’s bedroom reappear as play outfits for the seven Von Trapp children), while Jodie plays the part of the menacing Nazi Admiral von Schreiber.

Jodie and Soni’s son and daughter-in-law, PTC cofounders JaceSon and Tina Barrus, have multiple responsibilities, too. Tina designed the costumes and plays the part of Elsa Schraeder, the woman Capt. Von Trapp thinks he wants to marry before realizing he is in love with Maria.  JaceSon designed the sets and plays Capt. Von Trapp, his height and booming voice just what you expect for the rigid, discipline-demanding career military man.

JaceSon and Tina’s children are here, there and everywhere, too.

Robert and KatySon Cameron designed the lighting and plays a townsperson, while three daughters play von Trapp children: Miranda is Gretl (double cast with Paige Moore), Eden plays Brigitta (double cast with Emma Whitehorn) and Tabitha plays Liesl (double cast with Katy Nicholas in the performance I attended).

I know from previous Plaza presentations that Tabitha can sing, and so can Nicholas. Her outstanding voice really shines in the popular “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” duet with Rolf (played by Robert Twaddell) and is really a pleasure when teamed with Browning when “Sixteen” reprised in the second act.

The other Von Trapp children are also double cast: Friedrich is played by Ben Midkiff and Hayden Cawood; Louisa by Marisa Pope and Rachel Browning (Meredith’s daughter); Kurt by David Midkiff and Harrison Cawood; and Marta by Rylee Mullen and Kylie Scarborough.  When the Von Trapp children sing together, which they do many times on songs such as “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things” and “So Long, Farewell,” you really wish they could be the youth choir at your church.

The children’s rendition of “Lonely Goatherd” is especially entertaining, performed on a makeshift stage with cute string puppets operated by the children.

Since everyone in the audience knows the story, there are no surprises, just a lot of heart-warming songs and one show-stopping moment. That’s when Kathy Lemons, as Mother Abbess, sings “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”  In her PTC debut, the vocal performance major from Howard Payne University sends chills down your spine with her great voice.How Do You Solve

But none of it would work if not for Browning, who has the energy, enthusiasm and likability to make you believe Maria doesn’t have to be a blue-eyed blonde with a boyish hair cut.

The show opens with Browning alone on the stage, one boulder and an Alps-looking backdrop transporting the audience to Austria. It doesn’t matter that Browning has appeared before at the Plaza, as Marian in “The Music Man,” and Marguerite in “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” As she prepares to perform the title song, you’re either going to accept her as Maria or reject her.

And then she sings. Hello, Maria.

The playbill credits Browning with degrees in vocal performance from Abilene Christian University and Boston University and with several roles in the Fort Worth Opera. The degrees must be doctorates.

Jay Lewis does a good job as Max Detweiler, Capt. Von Trapp’s buddy who arranges the concert hall performance the family uses to make its escape. You’ll recall from the movie the Kiddosscene when the captain, buying time at the concert for the family to get away, asks the audience to sing “Edelweiss,” a tribute to the Austria he loved that was being taken over by the Nazis. The Austrian audience sings along.

JaceSon Barrus, as Capt. Von Trapp, does the same thing, and, wouldn’t you know it, the sold-out Cleburne audience sings along, too. And so will you.

Don’t miss this one.

Written by Russel Crouse, Howard Lindsay and Maria Augusta Trapp, with music by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, “The Sound of Music,” is presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays through March 9 at the Plaza Theatre, 111 S. Main St., in Cleburne.

Tickets — $15 for adults, $14 for age 65 and older and students age 13 through college, and $13 for children age 12 and under — are available online at http://www.plaza-theatre.com, or at the box office 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Audition Notice: PILLOW TALK at Plaza Theatre Company

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Audition Notice: PILLOW TALK at Plaza Theatre Company

February 19th between the hours of 7pm and 10pm

Plaza Theatre Company – 111 S. Main St, Cleburne, TX

Auditions are by appointment only. Audition appointments can be made by clicking here or by calling the Plaza Theatre Box Office at 817-202-0600. The audition will be held at Plaza Academy at 221 S. Mill Street (1 block from the theatre)

The show will be Directed by JaceSon P. Barrus with Stage Management by Cessany Ford.

AUDITION INFORMATION
Those auditioning are asked to come prepared to perform a comedic monologue of their choosing of no more than three minutes in length. Additionally, those auditioning may be asked to read cold from the script during the initial audition. The directors will spend around five minutes with each potential cast member at this initial audition.

A call back audition will be held on Saturday February 23rd at 9am. Those who the director wishes to see further will be invited to the call back audition which may last up to 2 hours time. PLEASE REFER TO THE PLAZA AUDITION GUIDELINES AS WELL AS THE PLAZA AUDITION CREDO WHEN PREPARING YOUR AUDITION FOR THE SOUND OF MUSIC. The Guidelines and Credo can be found at plaza-theatre.com/auditions

PRODUCTION INFORMATION
The production will play on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and Saturday afternoons opening on April 19th and playing through May 11th. Rehearsals will commence on March 2nd and take place Monday thru Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings till opening. No Sunday rehearsals or performances.

SHOW INFORMATION
Forced to share a party line with her neighbor Brad, Jan desperately breaks in on one of his many romantic conversations only to have him accuse her of snooping. When Brad meets Jan, he pretends to be a naive Texan named Rex Stetson, and Jan is entranced. This confusion provides the merry play on which the charming film starring Rock Hudson / Doris Day is based.

ABOUT THE THEATRE
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 61st show. The Company has been the proud recipient of over 37 Column Awards including winning “Best Musical” in 2009 and 2010  in addition to recently being named “Best Theatre Group” by the WFAA A-List for 2011. Further information about PlazaCo is available by visiting www.plaza-theatre.com

CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS

Jan Morrow – (Mid 20’s to early 30’s) – a beautiful, single young woman who is self-assured and successful. She is an upwardly mobile interior designer who owns her own business. She has become resentful of her neighbor for what she considers to be his “immoral” behavior relating to his conversations with women on the party line they share.
Brad Allen – (Mid 20’s to early 30’s) – a handsome, single young man who is also self-assured and successful. He is a songwriter by trade and has cultivated many relationships with women, partly because he likes to try his romantic songwriting out on them to test its effect. He also hatches a scheme to “get back” at Jan by pretending to be a shy Texan that courts her.
Jonathan Forbes – Jan’s client.
Mrs. Walters – Another of Jan’s clients.
Tony Walters – Her son.
Alma – Jan’s maid.
Pierot – Jan’s business partner.
Marie, Eileen, Yvette – Brad’s love interests. The same actress will play all three roles distinctively differently.
Miss Conrad, Supervisor, Miss Dickinson – Representatives of the phone company.
a Policeman
Bessie – Brad’s maid.
Mrs. Frost, Mrs. Ames – Potential clients of Jan’s.
Graham – A private detective.
a Girl in the Club

Tilda, Ann – Jan’s Assistants.

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