Archive for August, 2013

Official Press Release: DEAR RUTH at Plaza Theatre Company


Plaza Theatre Company – PRESS RELEASE

Plaza Theatre Company to stage the WWII comedy classic DEAR RUTH

Plaza Theatre Company is proud to announce the opening of DEAR RUTH on September 13th, 2013. The production will play Plaza’s newly renovated theatre at 111 S. Main Street in Cleburne, TX opening on September 13th and playing October 5th. The show will be the 68th produced by Plaza Theatre Company since it’s inception in November of 2006.

Set during WWII, the show tells the story of a precocious young girl who carries on a romantic correspondence with an overseas soldier while signing the name of her unwitting older sister. The soldier returns to finds that his pen-pal is already engaged… to another guy! After a series of lively complications and plot twists, the older sister has to choose who to marry.

The Cast List for DEAR RUTH is: (Double Cast where noted)

JUDGE HARRY WILKINS – Jay A. Cornils, Luke Hunt

MRS. EDITH WILKINS – Katy Wood, Cheryl Coward King

RUTH WILKINS – Tabitha Barrus, Kellie Nickell

MIRIAM WILKINS – Rachel Browning, Brooke Verbois

DORA the MAID – Becki Schoen, Ruth Anne Warwick


Sgt. CHUCK VINCENT – Michael Sorter, Jesse Bowron

MARTHA SEAWRIGHT – Scout Harrell, Dora Hunt

ALBERT KUMMER – Jonathan Metting

The production is under the direction of Taffy Geisel with stage management by Emily Warwick. DEAR RUTH will open on Friday September 13th at 7:30pm. The show will then play every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening thru October 5th 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 or visiting the Plaza Box Office between the hours of 10am and 6pm Monday thru Saturday.

Audition Notice: WHITE CHRISTMAS at Plaza Theatre Company


Audition Notice: WHITE CHRISTMAS at Plaza Theatre Company

Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce open auditions for its upcoming production of WHITE CHRISTMAS. The initial audition is being held on Monday September 16th and Tuesday September 17th from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. Auditioners need only make an appointment for one of the available days. Audition appointments are available by calling the Plaza Box Office at 817-202-0600 or by visiting here: Plaza Audition Appointments

The audition will be held at Plaza Academy which is located at 221 Mill Street in Cleburne about 1 block from Plaza Theatre Company. The show will be directed by JaceSon and Tina Barrus with musical direction by Doug Henry


Those auditioning are asked to come prepared to sing 32 bars of music in the style of the show that will best display their vocal ability. An accompanist will be provided. Additionally, those auditioning will be asked to read cold from the script during the initial audition. The directors will spend around 5 minutes with each individual performer at this initial audition.

A call back audition will be held on Saturday September 21st at 9am. Those who the Directors wish to see further will be invited to the call back audition which may last up to 4 hours time. PLEASE REFER TO THE PLAZA AUDITION GUIDELINES AS WELL AS THE PLAZA AUDITION CREDO WHEN PREPARING YOUR AUDITION. The guidelines and Credo can be found at


The production will play on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and Saturday afternoons opening on November 15th and playing through December 23rd. Rehearsals will commence on October 1st and will usually take place Monday thru Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings until opening. No Sunday rehearsals or performances.


After leaving the Army following WWII, Bob and Phil team up to become a top song-and-dance act. They soon meet a pair of beautiful sisters who also have an act. When the girls travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, Bob and Phil follow, only to find their former commander is the lodge owner. A series of romantic mix-ups ensue as the performers try to help the General. The show boasts music by Irving Berlin and a script from the beloved movie of the same title.


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 67th show. The Company has been the proud recipient of over 46 Column Awards including winning “Best Musical” in 2009, 2010 and 2012 in addition to recently being named “Best Theatre Group” by the WFAA A-List for 2011. Further information about PlazaCo is available by visiting


Bob Wallace – late 20’s to mid 30’s, a superb singer with a crooning style who moves well.

Phil Davis – late 20’s to mid 30’s, strong jazz and tap-dancing needed – a song-and-dance comic performer.

Betty Haynes – mid to late 20’s, a female singer of quiet beauty and charm who must move well.

Judy Haynes – early 20’s, strong jazz and tap-dancing needed – a major song-and-dance performer.

General Henry Waverly – late 50’s to mid 60’s, with the exception of one line, a non-singing role.

Martha Watson – late 40’s to mid 60’s, a winning, appealing character-comedienne.

Susan Waverly – 9-11 years old, she must have an excellent belt voice and be able to move well.

Ralph Sheldrake – mid to late 30’s, Army buddy of Bob and Phil’s, now a major television executive with the Ed Sullivan Sullivan Show. Fast-talking, New York professional.

Rita and Rhoda – mid 20’s to early 30’s, Bob and Phil’s two star chorus girls, they are brash, sexy, and fun, although perhaps not the smartest.

Ezekiel Foster – mid 40’s to late 50’s, The ultimate taciturn New Englander, who helps out at the inn and takes life at a very slow pace.

Mike – mid 20’s to late 30’s, Bob and Phil’s stage manager. Has a tendency to be over-dramatic and completely hysterical, but will get things done. Never seen without his whistle and clipboard, which he uses to attempt to keep order.


4 Male & 4 female. Early 20’s to Mid 30’s. Must be equally strong in ballroom, jazz and tap. Must sing very well. This is 1950’s Hollywood movie musical dancing.


2 Male & 2 female. Early 20’s to Mid 50’s. Function as an Old Broadway backup quartet to the team of Wallace and Davis. Must move well but must sing very well, especially in close harmony.


3 to 6 sought, ages 6 to 14, Male and Female to portray TRAIN PASSENGERS, INN GUESTS etc.

The ensemble will, over the course of the show, play:

  • Jimmy’s Backroom Clubgoers

  • Train Passeengers / Inn Guests

  • Chorus Kids

  • Patrons of the Regency Room

  • Tessie

  • Jimmy

  • Cigarette Girl

  • Snoring Man

  • Mrs. Snoring Man

  • Train Conductor

  • Dance Captain

  • Seamstress

  • Assistant Seamstress

  • Ed Sullivan Announcer

The Star Group Review: “Make It Your Quest To See MAN OF LA MANCHA”


MAN OF LA MANCHA is playing for three more weekends at Plaza Theatre Company. It is a beautiful story with magnificent performances and glorious music. But don’t just take our word for it – read Paul Gnadt’s review of the show below, then call 817-202-0600 or visit for reservations.

Make it your quest to see Plaza’s ‘Man of La Mancha’

Keene’s Shannon Loose as Aldonza sings a lament to a horse and donkey during the Plaza Theatre Company’s presentation of “Man of La Mancha,” paying Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 7 at the Plaza Theatre in Cleburne.

Three words: Perfect. Finally. Creative.

The casting of community theater veteran Joel Lagrone to play the title role and Carnegie Players’ Shannon Loose to play his leading lady is the perfect combination for the Plaza Theatre Company’s presentation of “Man of La Mancha,” playing through Sept. 7 at the Plaza Theatre in Cleburne.

It’s about time we finally see Loose, who lives in Keene, on the PTC stage. The lady can really sing. Her role of Aldonza is double-cast with PTC cofounder Milette Siler, who can also sing. But it was Loose in the role the night I attended and, hopefully, this is the first of many appearances she will make at PTC.

And once again, PTC’s creative cofounders G. Aaron Siler (sound, light and set designer) and JaceSon Barrus (set design and construction) have transformed the space-challenged Plaza theatre-in-the-round stage into another world, this time a dark, dank prison of 1594 in Seville, Spain, the setting for this wonderful, if a little bit confusing, musical.

Forget that this is amateur theater in small-town Texas. The PTC talent is absolutely amazing, and the voices — Michael McMillian as Sancho Panza, Martin Guerra as Padré, Emily Warwick as Antonia and Pam Valle as the Housekeeper — are as good as those in any playhouse anywhere. The voices of Lagrone, Loose and Siler are better than most.

“Man of La Mancha” is the musical adaptation of a book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh. It is adapted from Wasserman’s non-musical 1959 teleplay, “I, Don Quixote,” which was, in turn, inspired by Don Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th Century masterpiece, “Don Quixote.” It tells the story of the “mad” knight, Don Quixote, as a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition.

The original 1965 Broadway production ran for 2,329 performances and won five Tony Awards. The show’s signature song, “The Impossible Dream,” is a standard headed for “classic” status.
Lagrone’s rendition of it is great.

A seven-year veteran of Metroplex theater (including years at “The Promise” in Glen Rose) Lagrone is making his PTC debut as Cervantes. Imprisoned during the Spanish Inquisition, he thinks of himself as Don Quixote, a knight who saves damsels in distress and fights dragons that are actually windmills. The fair damsel in his life is Aldonza, a lady of ill repute, played by Loose (and Milette Siler). While others see her for what she is, Quixote sees her as a fine lady.

As Cervantes plans his defense for his trial, he devises a play that involves all the prisoners. I had a little trouble differentiating between the “play” and “real time,” but it really doesn’t matter because the songs are so good and some scenes are quite funny.

And congrats to director G. Aaron Siler and musical director Soni Barrus for staging some fight scenes, musical numbers and other maneuvers that are very clever.

And double congrats to G. Aaron Siler and JaceSon Barrus for the creative set that asks the audience to use a little imagination. The set never changes, but a few clever props and lighting techniques turn corners of the stage into a stable, a kitchen, a church and a bedroom.

PTC has presented a plethora of clever and imaginative props during its run of 67 shows since 2007, but the scene when Aldonza sings “What Does He Want of Me?” to a horse and donkey with moving parts is one of its best. The audience erupted in delightful and spontaneous applause the night I attended.

Kudos to Tina Barrus for costume design and to Parker Karrus for designing the horse heads.

But it’s the singing that matters and there are about 20 songs to enjoy.

If you haven’t heard him before, Lagrone can sing. His voice is sort of mellow-bold, commanding but not overpowering. He is perfect for Don Quixote and gets things going with an opening song accompanied by McMillian, who plays Sancho Panza, Don Quixote’s manservant. McMillian does a good job throughout, bouncing off Lagrone’s lead to give him set-up lines. His treatment of “The Missive” is lively and fun.

If you haven’t heard her before, Loose can really, really sing. She’s played Aldonza with the Carnegie Players in 2008, and her familiarity of the role enables her to master it. She and Lagrone work well together, respecting each others’ time in the spotlight.

You’ll also enjoy the singing of Guerra, Warwick and Valle, especially in two numbers called “I’m Only Thinking of Him,” and “We’re Only Thinking of Him.”

Otherwise, PTC regulars attendees will recognize Solomon Abah, JaceSon Barrus, Jay Cornils, Luke Hunt and Jay Lewis in support roles.

Three words: Go see it.

Audition Notice: Clue the Musical Auditions at Plaza Theatre Company


Clue the Musical

August 19th and August 20th, 2013

Call backs are Saturday, August 24th, 9am – 1pm.

Auditions held at the Plaza Academy Fine Arts & Dance Studio at  221 S. Mill St., Cleburne, TX

Directed by Dennis Yslas

Choreography by Darius Robinson

Auditions are only available by appointment

Click here to setup an audition appointment

All roles are available for Plaza Theatre Company’s upcoming production of CLUE THE MUSICAL. An open audition is being held at Plaza Theatre Company to cast the show on August 19-20, 2013. Auditions are by appointment only.

Those auditioning are asked to come prepared to sing 32 bars of a traditional Broadway Musical showing off your vocal range. An accompanist will be provided. Additionally, auditioners may be asked to read cold from the script during the initial audition and all auditioners will be taught a short movement combination – please come prepared to move. The director will spend around 5 to 10 minutes with each individual auditioner at this initial audition.

A head shot and resume are requested.

A call back audition will be held on Saturday August 24th at 9am. Those auditioners who the Director wish to see further will be invited to the call back audition which may last up to 4 hours time. PLEASE REFER TO THE PLAZA AUDITION GUIDELINES AS WELL AS THE PLAZA AUDITION CREDO WHEN PREPARING YOUR AUDITION. The guidelines and Credo can be found at

The production will play on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and Saturday afternoons opening on Oct. 11th and playing through Nov. 9th. Rehearsals usually take place Monday thru Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings till opening. No Sunday rehearsals or performances.

The popular board game is now a fun filled musical which brings the world’s best know suspects to life and invites the audience to help solve the mystery. They chooses from cards representing the murderers, weapons and rooms – there are 216 possible solutions! Comic antics, witty lyrics and a seductive score carry the investigation from room to room.

(all roles are available)

MR. BODDY – male – Charismatic, handsome, playful hot; 30s; soaring baritone/tenor

MRS. PEACOCK – female – Acerbic, manipulative, sexy socialite; plays 40s; mezzo with belt

PROFESSOR PLUM – male – Astute intellectual with a wry sense of humor; plays 30s-40s; baritone

MISS SCARLET – female – Shrewd, very attractive vixen; 20s; wide vocal range with belt

COLONEL MUSTARD – male – Pompous, amorous military man; plays 40s-50s; baritone

MRS. WHITE – male – Fun-loving cockney maid, portrayed by a man; plays 40s-50s; wide vocal range

MR. GREEN – male – Slick, handsome wheeler-dealer; 20s; baritone/tenor

DETECTIVE – female – Hard-nosed, snappy, humorous female; 30s; interesting singing voice

All auditions will follow the Plaza Theatre Company Audition Credo.

An Exceptional Review of MAN OF LA MANCHA from Kristy Blackmon of The Column by John Garcia


Plaza Theatre Company’s production of MAN OF LA MANCHA is in full swing. The show opened last weekend and will be playing through September 7th on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30pm and Saturday afternoons at 3pm. Read on for a spectacular recommendation of the show and then visit or call 817-202-0600 to reserve.

_________________________MAN OF LA MANCHA_______________________

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

For all of the wonderful new shows, both musicals and plays, produced every
year, there will always be a special place for the old standards
from the glory days of mid-century American musical theatre. In the D/FW
metroplex, few companies rival Plaza Theatre Company in Cleburne in this genre.
A mix of the company’s leadership, core group of both on and offstage talent,
the audience and theater space makes Plaza the land of milk and honey for those
musicals many of us know and love so well.

The one continual challenge for Plaza that I’ve seen is that their small
theater-in-the-round causes issues with staging and transitions.
I’ve written before about the blackouts necessitated by the quick and intricate
scene changes of complicated shows, and errors in judgment with the placement of
bulky set pieces that block the line of sight for significant portions of the
audience. In many cases, it’s just that the shows Plaza produces—these big, old
Broadway musicals in particular—have sets just as grand as their scores, and at
times they’re just too much for the small space.

All of these points taken together in consideration made Man of La Mancha,
currently running at Plaza through September 7, a near perfect show for this
theatre. Director G. Aaron Siler’s enthusiasm for the show was apparent from the
program’s Director’s Note and his opening speech to the audience. Man of La
Mancha is a different kind of musical, he advised those in the audience who were
unfamiliar with the show. Though this is very true, I don’t think the
qualification was necessary. Plaza’s production was enjoyable on 99% of all
fronts with or without an explanation.

Based on the canonical novel Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes, Man of La Mancha
puts a twist on the themes presented by Cervantes in the book by telling the
story as a play within a play. Cervantes, along with his faithful servant, is
imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition. In the squalid holding cell awaiting his
turn for questioning, he is forced to defend his possessions and his profession
against the other prisoners.

For his defense, he stages a re-enactment of his manuscript, which details the
story of one Alonso Quijana, a “crazy” old man who believes himself a
knight-errant by the name of Don Quixote de la Mancha, set forth on a quest for
justice, chivalry, truth, honor and faith.

The play-within-a-play was as the absolute perfect theatrical genre for Plaza’s
limited space. Siler never let the audience lose sight of the “play within a
play” concept. In past shows, the audience was lost every time there was a
blackout to change scenes. With Man of La Mancha, such transitions were
unnecessary; the settings of the real play never changes. We are always in the
Spanish prison watching Cervantes and his fellow inmates stage the show. For
their part, the inhabitants of the prison improvise set pieces, props, and in
many cases, costumes from anything that’s lying around which then becomes part
of the action in which the audience partakes. Thus, there are no blackouts and
any slips with most of the technical elements can be excused as part of the
clumsiness of the improvising inmates. This keeps the pace of the show hopping
quickly along, avoiding the pacing problems of some other Plaza shows I’ve seen.

The set, props and costumes were almost inextricably intertwined due to the
“homemade” nature of the production. A basket becomes a horse mask, a rag
becomes a silken scarf and two twirling broomsticks held perpendicular to each
other become the arms of a windmill. Again, the limited resources worked to the
advantage of the show, eliminating any need to break the spell. The set was
simple: a raised square platform in the middle of the stage surrounded by
barrels and boulders and a small recessed niche in one corner for highlighted
vignettes. Designed by Siler and JaceSon P. Barrus, the set was extremely
versatile, evocative and easy for the actors to maneuver into place.

Much of the staging was dependent not just on the set but also on the lighting.
This was the only part of the production that fell short. Siler, who designed
both the light and the sound, made heavy use of isolated spotlights for dramatic
effect and to highlight action he wished to be separate from the larger scene of
the prison.

Unfortunately, the actors failed to find their light the majority of the time,
leaving spots to fall on their noses and toes. At first I thought this was a
lack of experience on the part of some of the younger players since finding the
light is a lesson learned by the greenest actors. However, the problem spanned
the cast, from rookies to veterans, leaving me puzzled as to the reason or the
solution. The moments when the lighting technique worked were powerful;
unfortunately, those moments were too few and far between.

Like the set, the props by Tammie Phillips were flexible enough to be used for
multiple purposes when needed. Tina Barrus’ costume design was impeccable as
always. From prisoners to highborn ladies, priests to evil sorcerers, and nobles
to scholars, the costumes were spot on and beautiful. The costume and prop
designs needed to work hand in hand in Man of La Mancha, and it was difficult to
tell at times where Phillips’ design ended and Barrus’ began. The perfect
example of overlap between the two was the brilliant pair of horse heads worn by
two members of the prison ensemble and produced by Parker Barrus, which drew
laughter and a smattering of applause upon their first appearance.

Siler’s sound design was very effective, most notably in two ways. First, it was
perfectly evocative of action occurring offstage. During the first half of the
play, for instance, Don Quixote fights a group of giants, which are actually
windmills, offstage, and the sound effects painted a clear picture of the action
the audience couldn’t see. Second, and most important, the music never once
drowned out a performer despite the sometimes breathy vocals of some of the
players. Neither was it overwhelmed by the louder members of the cast. Many
don’t realize what a tricky mix this is to achieve, but Siler obviously
understood his technique. This was one of the first shows in a long while during
which I had no complaints about the sound.

Joel Lagrone gave a near perfect performance as both Miguel Cervantes,
the gentleman poet, and Don Quixote, the dotty old character played by
Cervantes, who wears a shaving basin on his head, carries a sword twisted into a
curlicue and totters around in a world of make-believe while still,
inexplicably, maintaining an unflagging air of dignity. Lagrone was a joy to
watch as he transformed back and forth from Cervantes to Quixote. Both of these
characters had their own forms of courage, wisdom and faith in humanity, and in
both roles Lagrone was a star. His Cervantes was refined without being dandified
and well-spoken without being snobbish, and his Don Quixote was remarkable;
suddenly, with the acquisition of some white in his beard and a battered armor
chest plate, Lagrone aged twenty years and became the perfect gentle, faithful
and noble old man to show us how beautiful the world can be if we just choose to
see the good in life. His rendition of “Impossible Dream” was tremendously
touching as an old, feeble madman becomes, in that moment, supremely noble and
emblematic of all the grace that man is capable of.

Shannon Loose’s portrayal of Aldonza, whom Don Quixote calls his lady Dulcinea,
was richly nuanced and ran the gamut of emotion. Aldonza’s anger and despair
over her miserable lot in life was palpable and her transformation from a
hardened, prickly cynic to a woman moved to trust in the “impossible dream” was
in turns brilliantly comical, utterly heartbreaking and, ultimately, inspiring.
Loose’s raspy, gritty speaking voice morphed into a cool, clear soprano that was
surprising and very successful. The contrast served to highlight her
vulnerability in songs such as “What Does He Want from Me” and her “Impossible
Dream” reprise. During less gentle songs, like the raunchy “It’s All the Same”,
it was less effective; the transitions were a little rough and inconsistent.

However, all is forgiven during Aldonza’s dramatic turning point mid-way through
the show when her faith in Don Quixote, her fellow man and herself is questioned
violently.Loose’s performance is devastating as she pours all of Aldonza’s self-loathing,

hopelessness and rage into the angry confessional “Aldonza”. By the show’s close,
 however, just as Alonso Quijana has transformed himself into Don Quixote, so has

Aldonza transformed herself into his lady, the noble, pure and faithful Dulcinea.

If Lagrone is the ultimate example of a seasoned performer well-acquainted with
his craft, and Loose is a musical actress at her peak, Michael McMillian as
Sancho Panza is a young talent with a wealth of potential. Sweet and earnest,
with a knack for comedic timing and the rare ability to stay interesting while
not detracting when he isn’t the center of the action, McMillian is a future
powerhouse. His vocals were perfect, his energy unfaltering and his depiction of
Panza was downright heartwarming. When Dulcinea asks why he’s following this
doddering old man around as he pursues visions of lunacy, Panza answers with the
genuine (and slightly bemused) solo “I Like Him” (listed in the Plaza program as
“The Missive”). McMillian pulled off Panza’s sincere loyalty, easygoing nature
and slight air of naiveté with ease. His physical comedy never missed and he
consistently held his own while never seeming to compete with Lagrone; showing
not just maturity but also wisdom as any attempt to upstage the leading man
playing either Cervantes or Quixote would surely have been cringe-worthy.

Every single cast member, in fact, was impressive: versatile, energetic, engaged
and capable of making the audience laugh and their eyes mist over. Man of La
Mancha is a brilliant show, but like many brilliant pieces of theatre, it falls
flat without a director and cast who understand its layers of meaning and how
best to convey them. Unlike other musicals where a grand score, intricate dance
numbers or extravagant sets and costumes carry the show, the cast of this
musical is what makes or breaks it.

Martin Guerra as Padre, the conflicted village priest from Alonso Quijana’s
home, did a fantastic job showcasing his character’s internal battle between
believing what society tells him is “sane” and his inability to see any harm in
Alonso Quijana’s fantasies. His gentle rendition of “To Each His Dulcinea” was a
calm and contemplative moment that gave the show a nice rest between adventures.

Luke Hunt was wonderfully pompous as Dr. Carasco, Alonso Quijana’s scholarly and
snobbish soon-to-be nephew, who devises a cruel scheme to rid the old man of his
delusions. He is the character the audience loves to hate.

His intended bride, Antonia, is played by Emily Warwick, a young woman with a
beautiful voice and the ability to switch between sniffling noblewoman and
guffawing low-born prisoner with ease. Doug Henrie, as both the “Governor” of
the prison and the Innkeeper in the play, showed a softness of heart covered by
varying degrees of bluster, and the group of men who make up the Muleteers who
frequent his establishment (both the prison and the inn) ranged from amusingly
ribald to frighteningly vicious.

The beauty of Man of La Mancha is that it encourages us to hope and to believe
in nobility and justice. In an age where the normal mode of human interaction is
cynical and full of suspicion, where it seems as though everyone from
politicians to strangers on the Internet are determined to make us lose our
faith in the innate goodness of people, we need our Don Quixotes. We need our
quests and impossible dreams. Plaza’s production of this show reemphasized the
timelessness of a story that remains as relevant today as it was in the
sixteenth century.