Archive for September, 2013

Announcing the Cast List and Production Team for Plaza Theatre Company’s WHITE CHRISTMAS

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Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce the official Cast List for the upcoming production of WHITE CHRISTMAS. The show is set to open November 15th and will play thru December 23rd. It will be under the direction of Tina and JaceSon Barrus with choreography by Tiffany Mullins, musical direction by Doug Henry, assistant direction by Solomon Abah and Jamie Long, and stage management by Ruth Ann Warwick. Thanks to all who auditioned and congratulations to those who have been cast.

WHITE CHRISTMAS at Plaza Theatre Company (double cast where noted)

Betty Haynes – Daron Cockerell
Bob Wallace – JaceSon Parker Barrus
Phil Davis – Jonathan Metting
Judy Haynes – Julianna Keller / Jill Nicholas
General Henry Waverly – Doug Henry
Martha Watson –  Judy Keller
Susan Waverly – Eden Barrus / Alyson Kessenger
Ralph Sheldrake / Vocal Corps Bass – Josh Rendon
Rita / Dance Corps Girl 1 – Stefanie Glenn
Rhoda / Dance Corps Girl 2 – Monica Glenn
Mike / Snoring Man / Vocal Corps Tenor – Jay Lewis
Conductor / Vocal Corps Tenor – Jodie Barrus
Ezekiel Foster / Vocal Corps Bass  – Jay Cornils
Tessie / Asst. Seamstress / Vocal Corps  Alto – Stacey Greenawalt King
Jimmy / Vocal Corps Bass – Gene Zorn
Cigarette Girl / Vocal Corps Soprano – Suzi Hanford
Mrs Snoring Man / Vocal Corps Soprano – Lisa Randol / Samantha Clayborn
Dance Corps Man 1 – Justin Diyer / ???
Dance Corps Man 2 – Levi King
Dance Corps Man 3 – Cameron Barrus
Dance Corps Man 4 – Nolan Moralez
Dance Corps Girl 3 – Kelly Nickel / ???
Dance Corps Girl 4 – Anna Looney
Vocal Corps Soprano – Madison Heaps / Micah King
Vocal Corps Soprano – Brooke Boyd
Vocal Corps Alto – Dawn Diyer
Vocal Corps Alto – Jade Rendon
Vocal Corps Bass – Christian Rendon
Kids Corps – Kenton Watson / Jerrod Whitney
Kids Corps – Mimi Barrus / Ashlyn Mullin
Kids Corps – Caroline Bennett / Samantha Bond
Kids Corps – Rylee Mullen / Maddie Almond

A Wonderful Review of DEAR RUTH by Charlie Bowles of The Column by John Garcia

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We’ve received another wonderful review for our current comedy DEAR RUTH. It’s a charming WWII comedy with lots of heart and a whole lotta laughs. But don’t just take our word for it – read this lovely review from Charlie Bowles of The Column by John Garcia, THEN call 817-202-0600 or visit www.plaza-theatre.com to get your seats reserved.

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A Review of DEAR RUTH by Charlie Bowles of The Column by John Garcia

It’s August 1944 in Long Island. Young Army Lt. William Seawright has returned from the Allied Front after D-Day for a 2-day leave. He hopes to connect with his beloved Ruth, the girl who wrote him every day. He carried her photo with him and now hopes to cement the relationship that helped him through twenty-five dangerous bomber missions. The problem is that his beloved Ruth is not the one who wrote the letters and she doesn’t know he’s coming, or even who he is.

This story sets up like a grand tragedy. Instead it’s a comedy, called Dear Ruth, written by Normal Krasna. You likely don’t know him, but you’ll probably remember White Christmas with Bing Crosby. Krasna co-wrote the screen play and had four Academy Award nominations and an Oscar in 1943. Moss Hart, well-known playwright of the time, suggested he write a commercial comedy for the stage. Krasna wrote Dear Ruth, reportedly based on Groucho Marx’s family. The production was directed by Moss Hart and premiered on Broadway December 1944, playing for 680 performances. In 1947 a film version grossed almost $4 Million, about $40 Million today.

Dear Ruth is now playing at Plaza Theatre Company in downtown Cleburne. Krasna’s comic script translates wonderfully to today, in spite of a 70-year difference, and this play is laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Everything about the set, costumes, props, sounds and ambience of PTC’s in-the-square stage screamed golden age of the 40’s. JaceSon P. Barrus created a living/dining room set which was the house of a local judge with lavish furnishings. Characters wore period costumes created by Tina Barrus, including US Army WWII Air Corps uniforms with military patches designed by Stacey Greenawalt King. The household furnishings and a host of props added to the story and atmosphere. Tammie Phillips and G. Aaron Siler must have worked overtime to put the dressing on Barrus’ beautifully colorful set.

Siler also created a soundtrack from the 40’s with loads of Glenn Miller playing before, during and after the show. Cameron Barrus made sure the set was extra bright for comedy.

Comedy works best when the actors play their lines in total seriousness. Good comedy works when the lines are crisp and delivered with speed. Great comedy works when every moment of line delivery is synchronized with every moment of action. And Dear Ruth had all three, including well-directed comic beats to nail the actors’ responses and allow for audience laughter. All actors played in full belief of their characters’ desires and allowed the lines and physical responses to create the “funny.”

Ruth Wilkins, played by Kelly Nickell, a young woman who has just decided to marry her local boyfriend gets totally confused when the new man arrives. That would be Lt. William Seawright, played by David Goza. As a man who is convinced his letters mean a sure thing for a wife, Goza none-the-less had to make William tentative and nervous about a possible rejection and dumbfounded, yet resolute as the story unfolded.

One could see a spark between Ruth and “Bill” almost immediately, though Nickell had to play out Ruth’s shock and dismay against Bill’s advances. Nickell showed this ambivalence throughout the show and we got to see her clear transformation.

Goza seemed a bit under-whelming at first, but this calm, polite confidence is something we often see in young military officers. In time it became a legitimate character choice.

Ruth’s intended is Albert Klummer, played by Jonathan Metting. Metting created a bumbling banker in Albert. He seemed over-the-top at first with anger and indignation, but as time went on this became a believable norm for Albert and soon the character was exactly as we might imagine. Metting’s outrage and responses were hilarious, especially when he was “off-scene.”

Ruth has a sister, young Miriam Wilkins. Played by Rachel Browning, Miriam is the cause of all the trouble with her young teenage political activism and the letters she wrote in Ruth’s name. Browning played Miriam as a head-strong young patriot, sure that she has to solve the ills of America and counteract the older generation. Browning showed us a “little girl” with a big mind.

The biggest laughs through the show were delivered by Judge Harry Wilkins. Played by Luke Hunt, his father-knows-best reactions to his daughter’s troubles provided a running commentary on everything that was happening around him. Hunt’s matter-of-fact near-deadpan looks made the lines he was saying even funnier. He was able to say things we were thinking. The mother of this family, Edith Wilkins, was played by Katy Wood and she often mirrored or countered Hunt. Their character relationship was often point-counterpoint but also touching and they were completely entertaining as parents watching their kids enter adulthood. Together Hunt and Wood created a powerful comedic couple.

Around this core group was a set of support characters who either enhanced the situations the main characters were experiencing or introduced complications. The family maid, Dora, was played by Becki Schoen as the one who had stamina to keep up with the confusion around her while being constantly frustrated by it. Martha Seawright, Bill’s sister, was played by Dora Hunt, and her pen-pal boyfriend and Bill’s war buddy, Sgt. Chuck Vincent, played by Michael Sorter, added a parallel love story. Hunt and Sorter had to play a similar story to Goza and Nickell, but make it different enough that we could see how a different couple might handle the challenges differently.

Finally a closing button scene was added by minor character, Harold Klobbermeyer, played by Christopher Wood. While on-stage only a moment, Wood’s entrance took the story into blackout with a line and a look and the final moments were comedy to the end.

Dear Ruth was directed by Taffy Geisel and her handiwork permeated this show. From a strong connection within the ensemble to a sense of quality in production values, from actors who let the script breathe and tell the story to simply playing the motivations each character felt, from selecting actors who were as good together as they were as characters, this play had the vision of Taffy Geisel all over it.

Dear Ruth ended with a creative high-energy bows sequence that I’ve not seen before which continued the story right through their dances, bows and exits and the audience seemed both surprised and pleased. I know I was.

Theatre Review: “Plaza’s DEAR RUTH Is One To Write Home About”

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Plaza’s ‘Dear Ruth’ is one to write home about

Comedy plays through Oct. 5 in Cleburne

They should have waited.

The Plaza Theatre Company could have waited until a break in the schedule to install its 158 new theater seats, but decided instead to introduce them during the current production of “Dear Ruth.”

Big mistake, since the audience didn’t get to enjoy them, spending most of the night falling out of their seats with laughter at this fast-paced comedy, the kind that PTC — along with musicals — does so well.

There are two casts, each with Plaza veterans (Luke Hunt, Jay Cornils, Tabitha Barrus) so it really doesn’t matter which one you see, although two main characters played by fan-favorite Jonathan Metting and quickly-becoming-a-fan-favorite David Goza remain the same in both versions.

Otherwise, both casts are sprinkled with experienced actors making their return to the stage after absences for various reasons, and newcomers who perform with seasoning under the direction of Taffy Geisel, who most recently arose from her director’s chair (“Happiest Millionaire,” “Annie”) to play Miss Myrtle, one of the two Bible-toting old holier-than-thou gossips she created for Amen Corner in the “Smoke on the Mountain” trilogy.

The story takes place in the living/dining room of the Kew Gardens, Long Island, N.Y., home of Edith and Judge Harry Wilkins on a weekend in August 1944, when Lt. Bill Seawright (Goza) returns from the war to meet and hopefully marry the Wilkins’ oldest daughter, Ruth, played by Kelly Nickell in the production I attended and double-cast with Tabitha Barrus.

Apparently, Ruth has been corresponding with Seawright via dozens of romantic letters, inspirational poems and words of encouragement to help him get through the war. She also sent her photograph. He has responded in kind and now shows up unannounced to meet her. Except Ruth did not send the letters and knows nothing about them. They were sent by her younger sister, Miriam (double cast with Rachel Browning and PTC rookie Brooke Verbois) who included a photo of her older sister.

When Ruth discovers the ruse, she goes along with the charade in the hopes that she can get through the weekend without having to confront Seawright.

But we all know it won’t go smoothly, especially when we’re introduced to Ruth’s fiance, Albert Klummer, played by Metting, fresh off his funny turn as Rev. Oglethorp in “Smoke.”
Even when he is not the center of attention, watch Metting’s facial expressions. He is focused and funny.

Every the-sky-is-falling comedy needs a steady anchor and that’s where Judge Wilkins rules, played with confidence by Hunt (for the performance I attended), who delivers his clever lines with perfect timing. There’s no reason to think veteran Cornils won’t do likewise on the nights he plays the judge.

Katy Wood (double cast with Cheryl King) plays Edith Wilkins, and her give and take with her husband provide some light-hearted and warm moments.

Some new characters are added in the second act which makes you think you’ve got things figured out, but you don’t.

“Dear Ruth” doesn’t have the surprise ending of “The Foreigner,” or the slapstick silliness of “See How They Run,” but it’s cute, clever, funny and fun.

Write yourself a note to see it.

You’ll also enjoy the new deep-burgundy seats that have more padding and stability and are higher off the ground than their predecessors.

From a play by Norman Krasna (who also wrote “White Christmas”), with costumes by Tina Barrus, sound by G. Aaron Siler, lights by Cameron Barrus and set design and construction by JaceSon Barrus and Justin Diyer, “Dear Ruth,” is presented at 7:30 p.m.  Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 5 at the Plaza Theatre, 111 S. Main St. in Cleburne.

Tickets — $15 for adults, $14 for age 65 and older and high school and college students, and $13 for children age 13 and under — can be purchased online at http://www.plaza-theatre.com, or at the box office from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, or by phone at 817-202-0600.

Casting Announcement: The Official Cast List and Production Team for CLUE the MUSICAL

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Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce the official Cast List for it’s upcoming production of CLUE the MUSICAL. The show is set to open October 11th and will play thru November 9th. It will be under the direction of Dennis Yslas with stage management by Cessany Ford. Bree Cockerell will musical direct while Darius-Anthony Robinson will serve as choreographer. Thanks to all who auditioned and congratulations to those who have been cast.

The cast is as follows.

MR. BODDY – G. Aaron Siler

PROFESSOR PLUM – David Goza, Nate Milson

MISS SCARLETT – Gemma Garcia

COLONEL MUSTARD – Jay Lewis

MRS. PEACOCK – Kathy Lemons

MR. GREEN – Rick Spivey

MRS. WHITE – Joshua Sherman

THE DETECTIVE – Stacey Greenawalt King

2014 Season Ticket Launch – Plaza Theatre Company

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Announcing Plaza Theatre Company’s 2014 Season Ticket Launch

Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce it’s 2014 Season Ticket Launch. Beginning at 10am tomorrow, September 2nd, current 2013 Season Ticket holders are eligible to renew their Season Tickets. Those who have not been Season Ticket holders in 2013 can buy Season Tickets for the 2014 Season starting October 1st. This gives current Season Ticket holders a month of priority to renew before seats are available to the General Public.
By now current Season Ticket holders should have received a renewal letter in the mail. Renewing is extremely EASY. Here’s how:

OPTION 1: PICK YOUR SEATS AND DATES LATER ON.

— You can renew either by calling the Box Office at 817-202-0600 or by visiting www.plaza-theatre.com and clicking ‘2014 Season Tickets’.

OPTION 2: PICK YOUR DATES AND SEATS NOW.

— If you wish to choose specific seats and dates when you renew your Season Tickets, simply fill out the form you received in the mail and either return it to the Box Office by mail or bring it to the Box Office during business hours. We will process renewals in the order we receive them and NEVER in person.

If you feel you must choose specific seats, please offer flexibility on dates. For example, offer us a 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice of dates you desire. Alternately, if you must have certain dates, please be flexible in the seats you will accept. Again, offer us a 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice of seating areas.

PLEASE NOTE: During the month of September we will only process Season Ticket renewals using the Season Ticket renewal form. We cannot process your form over the phone or in person. After we process your form we will mail you a detailed receipt with your dates and seating assignments.

2014 PlazaCo SEASON TICKET HOLDERS ENJOY MANY BENEFITS. THEY ARE:

  • OUR BEST TICKET PRICE — A 20% discount over regular ticket prices. Owning a Season Ticket amounts to seeing two shows for FREE.
  • FIRST PRIORITY SEATING — The ability to reserve seats and dates in advance of the general public.
  • FREE EXCHANGES — The ability to exchange dates when 24 hours notice is given.
  • A FULL YEAR OF ENTERTAINMENT — 10 guaranteed evenings of quality family entertainment.

AND WHAT A FANTASTIC SEASON WE HAVE IN STORE!

We have planned a season of thrills, chills and laughs at PlazaCo in 2014. Here’s what your Season Ticket gets you:

CASH ON DELIVERY – December 31st thru January 25th

cash-on-delivery-web-logo    A con artist has been duping the Government for years by claiming every type of benefit for fictitious people. When welfare investigators show up, he has to do some very quick thinking to bring these made up people to life. Fast paced British farce at it’s very finest.
THE KING AND I – January 31st thru March 8th

King-and-I-web      Anna arrives at the Royal Palace in Siam having been summoned by the King to serve as a tutor. While seeking Anna’s assistance in changing his image and his ways, the King grows to understand and, eventually, respect Anna in a truly unique and moving love story.
KISS ME KATE – March 14th thru April 12th

Kiss-Me-Kate-web    An ex-husband and wife team are reunited to star in a musical version of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew”, but off-stage the production is rife with ex-lovers’ quarrels and gangsters looking for kickbacks. Merriment abounds in this most classic of Broadway musicals.

ENCHANTED APRIL – April 18th thru May 10th

Enchanted-April-web    When two frustrated London housewives decide to rent a villa in Italy for a holiday, they recruit two very different English women to share the cost and the experience. There, among the blossoms and sunshine, all four flourish again in ways each never expected.

CAMELOT – May 16th thru June 14th

Camelot-web    Guinevere, King Arthur’s lovely wife, encourages him to establish the Knights of the Round Table. As the Knights grow in fame, Lancelot becomes the most celebrated, but rumors begin to circulate about he and Guinevere. A time-honored tale of love, forgiveness and dignity.
STEEL MAGNOLIAS – June 20th thru July 19th

SM-logo    Steel Magnolias serves up a slice of life in Louisiana that’s as warm and comforting as sweet potato pie. In the haven of Truvy’s beauty salon, six very different women come together to share their secrets and bare their souls, throwing in a little neighborly gossip for good measure. From weddings to divorces, babies to funerals, new beginnings to happy endings, they weather every event in their lives en masse with grace, determination, and perfectly coiffed hair.
SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE – August 15th thru September 13th

smokey_j    Leiber & Stoller virtually invented rock ‘n’ roll, and now their songs are part of an electrifying musical that illuminates the golden age of American culture. Featuring nearly 40 of the greatest songs ever recorded, this isn’t just great pop music – it’s great musical theatre.
FATHER OF THE BRIDE – September 19th thru October 11th

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The play that spawned several movies tells the story of a dithering father as his only daughter prepares to wed. As expenses and headaches mount and the big day arrives, will dear old Dad be able to see it through? A gentle comedy to which every father can relate.

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS – October 17th thru November 15th

Little-shop-web     Seymour works at a flower shop attending a plant he’s named Audrey after the girl he loves. But it’s no ordinary plant – it came from outer space and plans to rule the world. As things get out-of-control, can Seymour stop the plant, save the world AND get the girl?

A CHRISTMAS CAROL – November 21st thru December 23rd

Carol-web    The miserly Ebenezer Scrooge journeys to redemption through the appearance of Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future. With carols of the season throughout, A Christmas Carol is a tradition unmatched for the joy it brings to every holiday season.

As you can see, 2014 will be another smash season at PlazaCo. We look forward to seeing you for a 2014 to remember.