The Star Group’s Review of THE SOUND OF MUSIC


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 – 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, or at the box office 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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