Archive for January, 2014

**BREAKING NEWS** – PlazaCo is Honored With 21 Column Awards Nominations

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The annual Column Awards nominations were announced yesterday, and among many worthy nominees from over 30 different DFW Theatre Companies which received nominations, PlazaCo was honored to receive 21 Column nominations. We were especially thrilled that these nominations represented six of our 2013 productions at PlazaCo. We send our congratulations to all who were nominated, to the Column Voting Academy for the recognition, and to the Column Awards organization for the event they work so diligently to provide.

Here is the list of PlazaCo nominees: (all in the non-Equity category)

Best Musical – MAN OF LA MANCHA

Best Play – DEAR RUTH

Best Director of a Musical – G. Aaron Siler for MAN OF LA MANCHA

Best Director of a Play – JaceSon P. Barrus for PILLOW TALK

Best Musical Director – Doug Henry for WHITE CHRISTMAS

Best Actress in a Musical – Milette Siler in MAN OF LA MANCHA

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical – Eden Barrus in WHITE CHRISTMAS

Best Supporting Actor in a Play – Jonathan Metting in DEAR RUTH

Best Featured Actress in a Musical – Stefanie Glenn in WHITE CHRISTMAS

Best Featured Actress in a Musical – Tina Barrus in THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Best Featured Actor in a Play – G. Aaron Siler in SEE HOW THEY RUN

Best Featured Actress in a Play – Brooke Verbois in DEAR RUTH

Chita Rivera Dance Award Male – Jonathan Metting for WHITE CHRISTMAS

Chita Rivera Dance Award Female – Jill Nicholas for WHITE CHRISTMAS

Best Costume Design of a Musical – Tina Barrus for WHITE CHRISTMAS

Best Costume Design of a Play – Stacey Greenawalt for SEE HOW THEY RUN

Best Set Design of a Musical – G. Aaron Siler for MAN OF LA MANCHA

Best Set Design of a Play – JaceSon P. Barrus for PILLOW TALK

Best Lighting Design of a Musical – G. Aaron Siler for MAN OF LA MANCHA

Best Lighting Design of a Play – JaceSon P. Barrus for PILLOW TALK

Best Sound Design of a Play – G. Aaron Siler for PILLOW TALK

Voting in the final round is open to all Column members and begins today. The Column Awards Gala will be held February 24th at the Granville Arts Center – we hope you will join us in attending this special event. Congratulations nominees!

Official Press Release – THE KING & I at Plaza Theatre Company

 

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Plaza Theatre Company to open the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic THE KING & I

Plaza Theatre Company is proud to announce the opening of THE KING & I on January 31st, 2014. The production will play Plaza’s newly renovated theatre at 111 S. Main Street in Cleburne, TX opening on January 31st and playing thru March 8th. The show will be the 72nd produced by Plaza Theatre Company since it’s inception in November of 2006.

One of Broadway’s most beloved musicals, THE KING & I tells the story of Anna as she 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. The movie of the same name starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brenner is considered one of the finest film adaptations of a musical in cinema history.

The Cast List for THE KING & I is:

Joel Lagrone – The King

Meredith Browning – Anna

Jay Cornils – Kralahome

Christia Caudle – Lady Thiang

Kate Vela – Tuptim

Jonathan Metting – Lun Tha

David Midkiff – Prince Chulalongkorn

Henry Cawood – Louis

Kendall Paredes – King’s Wife

Dawn Diyer – King’s Wife

Jordan Stone – King’s Wife

Wendy Murray – King’s Wife

Brittany Holcomb – King’s Wife

Debra Midkiff – King’s Wife

Angela Burkey – King’s Wife

Donna Moore King’s Wife

Ever Harrell – Child

I.J. Meachem – Child

Kaitie Bench – Child

Caroline Bennett – Child

Austen Stanton – Child

Eden Barrus – Child/Small House Ensemble

Miranda Barrus – Child

Rylee Mullen – Child

Emma Whitehorn – Child/Small House Ensemble

Harrison Cawood – Child

Victoria Burkey – Child

Paige Moore – Child

Megan Skinner – Child

Parker Skinner – Child

Hayden Cawood – Small House Ensemble / Interpreter

Rachel Browning – Small House Ensemble

Anna Looney – Small House Ensemble

Ben Midkiff – Small House Ensemble

Kathryn Balaban – Small House Ensemble

Suzi Hanford – Small House Ensemble/King’s Wife

James Nicholas Hefner – Small House Ensemble

Maddie Almond – Small House Ensemble

Wendy Cariaga – Small House Ensemble

JaceSon Barrus – Capt. Orton /Sir Edward Ramsey

The production is under the direction of Jodie and Soni Barrus with stage management by Ruth Ann Warwick, assistant stage management by Dana Siler, musical direction by Soni Barrus and choreography by Kelli Price. THE KING & I will open on Friday January 31st and will then play every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30pm Saturday matinees every Saturday afternoon at 3pm thru March 8th. 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.

A Lovely Review Of CASH ON DELIVERY From Amy Thurmond Of The Column By John Garcia

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We’ve gotten another great notice for our current production of CASH ON DELIVERY. If you haven’t reserved yet – hurry! Just this week and next and one of Plaza’s most side-splitting shows will be gone. 817-202-0600 or visit www.plaza-theatre.com

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Reviewed by Amy Thurmond, Associate Theater Critic
for John Garcia’s THE COLUMN

Imagine the most creative yet convoluted story you can muster. Intertwine the lives of several people (most of who do not exist). Make up an ailment of some sort for each – consider their families, their professions.  Add to those details secret bits of juicy information and a slightly daffy lodger entering stage right at precisely the most inopportune time. Now, imagine being put on the spot to tell that tale over and over again, “creating”as you go, because all of the “details”, save a handful of actual tales already told are, at present, in question by local authorities who have just arrived in your living room.

Sound like a zany bit of everyday lunacy? Well, maybe not for us all, but this is most certainly the pickle of a predicament to be found in Plaza Theatre Company’s production of Cash on Delivery.  Playwright Michael Cooney presents a piece of material solely intended to be taken tongue in cheek, and that is certainly what PTC’s audience gets!

Lights up on a simple living room, home to Eric and Linda Swan.  A select few pieces of furniture, colorful flower arrangements, throw pillows and warm lighting dressed the stage effectively to suggest a charming and cozy English rooming house. Several entrances led to suggested rooms in other parts of the home and were well utilized in design. Staging was logical for the most part. However, there was one entire area of the stage, set around the big window with a fabulous window seat, which seemed somewhat orphaned. Minimal action of any kind took place within that area (one incident not withstanding). Considering the charming design of the window/window seat combination, one might have expected to see some of the action flow in that direction.  The fundamental layout of Plaza Theatre Company’s performance space legitimately warranted the use of wireless mics. However, there were numerous moments throughout the show where the speakers, by way of shrieks, shrills, screams and the exasperated lines, actually pained the audience. Granted, at the reviewed performance, roars of laughter often followed those moments.

Straight away, the tone of the play is set with a telephone conversation between Eric Swan and the Department of Social Security. As Swan struggles to juggle the interruptions of his wife, Linda, and his lodger, Norman, his phone call spirals desperately out of control and sets the audience up for what proves to be a wild ride, indeed!

At the top of the show, Swan and Norman both enter stage sans shoes. This simple decision seemed an effective one, inviting audience members into the Swans’ home.  The action of the play is swift, almost urgent, and a great deal of set up is delivered immediately to the audience. Pay attention! The tempo was maintained throughout at such an extremely high rate it was as if the actors were clocked to the second on delivery and pick up of lines, entrances and exits. To that end, the cast performed well, not missing too many queues, never allowing too long a breath between lines.  There was a great deal of desperation and utter confusion portrayed by every actor who entered, and the audience welcomed every instance with full on laughter.  Unfortunately, that constant high speed tempo left no room for shading or inflection.

The cast, as a whole, gave a passionate and entertaining performance, peppered with a few breaks in character but filled with a united desire to bring a smile. JaceSon P. Barrus portrayed Eric Swan with a nervous ease (isn’t that a contradiction). He carried the weight of the dialogue and did so with true know-how. There was no arc, however, in Barrus’ portrayal. I did get a hint of the desperation that Mr. Swan feels, and Barrus reached the audience on that level. But more often than not, his single expression was that of being utterly flabbergasted. Regardless, Mr. Barrus knew how to deliver a line and work the room, and that garnered him a ton of well-earned laughs.

Kristi Mills as Linda Swan looked smashing in her tailored and bright ensemble. Mills used her facial expressions fabulously, pulling and pouting to the audience’s delight. Her character development, however, left this reviewer begging for more depth. Mills had plenty of material to work with for such development, but as was mentioned previously, the tempo maintained simply did not leave room for the actor to explore those emotions related to pace.

Russ B. Walker and Kristi Taylor, who portrayed Mr. Jenkins and Sally Chessington respectively, brought new urgency and silliness into play. Though both were on quite different journeys throughout the play, Walker and Taylor kept the joint lively in all of their scenes. Mr. Jenkins’ sparkly tie was a special touch and caught my attention. Sally was a very maternal source of some comfort the crazier things got…until it got so crazy even her she seemed in need of her mommy!  Portraying Dr. Chapman, Steven Lindsay seemed a perfect fit in his role. His meek demeanor played well into the crazy! At times, however, that push-push-push pace seemed to push-push-push him over, leaving him an afterthought. There was great potential in the character of Dr. Chapman, and I believe Mr. Lindsay had the skill to pull it off. He just needed time to breathe and be seen!

By far, the standout performance of the evening was that of G. Aaron Siler as the Swans’ lodger, Norman McDonald. His physical comedy, use of facial expressions, and resounding voice stood out far above his peers. Siler seized every possible opportunity to get a laugh, and the laughs came in a genuine fashion. I could see how the character of Norman could be played mildly, meek almost. But the choice (whether by Director Barrus, Siler himself or a joint decision) to play him over the top was genius! While most everyone in the cast enjoyed special moments of laughter, Siler was awarded with laugh after laugh after laugh. He was cartoonish at times and even childlike. Whatever the moment, Siler truly attacked it!

Jay A. Cornils, as Uncle George, was quite humorous and a nice bit of goofy. While he was lacking an English accent (it’s possible, of course), Cornils looked dashing in his slicker and even more so in his undies! At times, Eric, Norman and Uncle George reminded me of the Three Stooges and their hijinks! Stacey Greenwalt as Brenda, burst in full of emotional energy and had no problem keeping pace with the rest of the cast. Nathan Glenn as Mr. Forbright and Stacey Blanton Ms. Cowper rounded out a nice ensemble cast. Glenn had moments where a single glance or raised eyebrow garnered a laugh. Blanton, while clearly attempting to portray an uptight, unbending protector of the Department of Social Security against fraud, was difficult to understand and maintained a stance with her hands on her hips which seem somewhat off-putting. She redeemed her performance, however, with the last bit of her time on stage.

Though the audience seemed exhausted by the end of the show, the measure of laughter throughout the night clearly showed that Plaza Theatre Company’s production of Cash on Delivery is worthy of your laughter and your time!

Paul Gnadt’s Phenomenal Keene Star Reveiw of CASH ON DELIVERY

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CASH ON DELIVERY is Now Playing at PlazaCo through January 25th (two more weekends). And if you haven’t had a chance to see the show – what are you waiting for?!? Read Paul Gnadt’s excellent review of the show, THEN give us a call at 817-202-0600 to reserve your seats. Read on:
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THEATER REVIEW – by Paul Gnadt

You can bank on laughs at Plaza’s ‘Cash on Delivery’

Linda Swan, played by Alvarado Junior High drama director Kristi Mills, tries to make sense out of the signing efforts of Norman McDonald, played by G.

It’s been some time since Plaza Theatre Company cofounders JaceSon Barrus and G. Aaron Siler were paired together as leads, but when they are, you can see why these veterans have devoted their lives to the stage. They love it. And they’re very good.

Barrus and Siler, who opened PTC in late 2006 with their wives, Tina Barrus and Milette Siler, deliver what may be their best comic performances of PTC’s 70 previous productions in “Cash on Delivery,” playing through Jan. 25 at the Plaza Theatre in Cleburne.

The last time Barrus and Siler shared leading roles was last year in “Drowsy Chaperone,” and only sparingly before that.

Brenda Dixon, played by Stacey Greenawalt, gets in the face of Mr. Jenkins, played by Russ B. Walker, in the Plaza Theatre Company’s presentation of

This time they’re supported by other experienced community theater actors who understand how important it is to nail the facial reactions, physicality and precise timing required to pull off this British farce that is absolutely a side-splitting, laugh-a-minute evening of absurd hilarity.

The action is so fast-paced, the plot so impossible yet cleverly plausible, PTC did it right by surrounding Barrus and Siler with veterans Stacey Blanton, Jay Cornils, Stacey Greenawalt, Steven Lindsay, Kristi Taylor and Russ B. Walker, while giving key roles to relative newcomers Nathan Glenn and Kristi Mills, the drama director at Alvarado Junior High.

Just when you think it’s musical comedy that Plaza Theatre Company does best, along comes this straight comedy to change your tune.

No troupe does in-your-face door slamming, men wearing women’s clothes, disappearing dead bodies, mistaken identity and  group double takes better than PTC.

“Cash on Delivery” takes place in the living room in the London home of married couple Linda and Eric Swan on a rainy morning. Doors in the clever set designed by JaceSon Barrus, who somehow also directs this staged chaos, lead to an imaginary kitchen, laundry and bedroom. A partial stairs leads to a make-believe second floor.

Eric Swan, played by JaceSon Barrus, left, attempts to explain a situation to his Uncle George, played by Jay Cornils, in the Plaza Theatre Company’s

Every nook and cranny of PTC’s 160-seat theater-in-the-round is put to good use.

The story is about the exploits of Eric (Barrus), who lost his job a couple of years ago but didn’t tell Linda (Mills). Eric has pretended to leave the house for work but instead has been defrauding the British Department of Social Security by collecting benefits for myriad fictitious lodgers and their relatives.

One such tenant was Rupert Thompson, whose identity was assumed by Eric. The fun begins when welfare agent Jenkins (Walker) unexpectedly arrives to get the signatures of Thompson and his landlord, Eric, who are the same person.

This requires the fast-thinking Eric to frantically find someone to be him. Enter tenant Norman McDonald (Siler) who Eric has already claimed to the social security people to be dead.

Eric has been assisted in the ruse by his Uncle George (Cornils) who winds up lying unconscious on the couch while everyone thinks he’s dead, including the undertaker. The removal of the “body,” believed by the others to be one of three people, is a scream. His reappearance in a body bag is one of the funniest scenes in PTC history.

Things go absolutely insane when social worker Sally (Taylor), marriage counselor Chapman (Lindsay), social security supervisor Cowper (Blanton) and McDonald’s finance Brenda Dixon (Greenawalt) show up and try to figure out what’s going on.

You’ll laugh and laugh at Siler’s feigning to be deaf and attempting sign language and the physical chase scenes as Eric attempts to “pinch” some of the others.

And the laughs are genuine, not the embarrassed laughter usually elicited by the risqué double entendres that typically run amok in British comedies. To its credit, PTC has made this one family friendly.

Written by Michael Cooney, with costumes designed by Stacey Greenawalt, lighting by Cameron Barrus, sound by G. Aaron Siler, properties by Milette Siler and stage management by Stefanie Glenn, “Cash on Delivery” is presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays at the Plaza Theatre, 111 N. Main St. in Cleburne.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $14 for age 65 and older and high school and college students, and $13 for children age 13 and under — and can be purchased online at http://www.plaza-theatre.com, or at the box office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, or by phone at 817-202-0600.

The Column Awards – Voting and Nominations Information

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Below you will find information about the new voting procedures for The Column Awards for this year. Please read thoroughly so that you can be acquainted properly with these new procedures. Voting for this years Column Awards begins Monday (Jan 13th) so this information is particularly relevant.

  • A new “Voting Academy” has been created to select official nominees. This Academy is comprised of people who: (1) Have won a Column Award in the past, (2) Are an Artistic Director of a theatre group which has won Best Musical or Best Play in the past, (3) Are a Column or other local theatre critic, or (4) Are a currently serving Column Awards Board Member. If you meet one or more of the above requirements, you are eligible to register as a member of the “Voting Academy”. Only members of the “Voting Academy” can vote in the first round of voting. Simply follow this link to register as a member of the “Voting Academy”. Once you have registered, an email will be sent to you detailing the first round voting process.**IMPORTANT NOTE** The general membership of The Column votes for the winners from the nominees selected by the “Voting Academy”.
  • “Voting Academy” voting begins Monday January 13th and is open until January 24th. If you are an eligible “Voting Academy” member, we suggest voting sooner rather than later so that you don’t let the deadline accidentally pass you by. As a “Voting Academy” member you must follow the link above to register.
  • We strongly encourage you to vote for those who you think are truly deserving. We do not expect you to vote for a Plaza show just because you have done a show here or because you know us. Vote for what you think is most deserving – we hope you make as informed a decision as possible when voting.
  • Once nominees have been selected and announced, voting in the final round begins January 27th and runs through February 7th. ALL members of The Column are eligible to vote in this final round. To be eligible you must register to vote and obtain a voting code. You can register and get your voting code by visiting here.
  • We ask that you respect the theatre’s neutrality when it come to which shows we support. We are proud of every show we produced last year and support all of them equally. You will certainly have your preferences and we are glad about that.
  • To be very clear, EVERYONE who has participated in a PlazaCo production during the year appears on the ballot in their corresponding category. No one on this initial ballot is an official nominee – this is the ballot that lists everyone in every category not only at PlazaCo, but throughout the Metroplex. Please don’t observe your name on this initial ballot and say you’ve been nominated because that would be innaccurate. The top six vote-getters from this list by members of the “Voting Academy” will be the official nominees which will be announced Sunday, January 26th.
  • We strongly urge you (and all PlazaCo patrons) to participate in the voting process fairly and honestly. Any dishonest activity as related to voting reflects negatively on the theatre. Please consider that when voting and act accordingly. We feel honored when our work is recognized, but only when it is achieved with integrity.
  • The official nominees will be announced on Sunday January 26th, the Column Awards themselves will be awarded at the Column Awards Gala on Monday February 24th. Our hope is that you will choose to attend this event with us. It is always a very enjoyable evening.

PlazaNews: January 2014 at PlazaCo

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IN THIS EDITION OF PLAZA/NEWS:

  • CASH ON DELIVERY is Now Playing
  • KISS ME KATE Auditions are next Monday and Tuesday evening
  • Plaza Academy opens it’s Spring Semester next week
  • Plaza Theatre Company launches a re-designed website

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CASH ON DELIVERY Plays Now Thru January 25th

The new year has just begun – and what better way to get the new year started than with some laughter and fun? Join us at PlazaCo for one of the truly funniest comedies we’ve ever presented. We promise you’ll leave with a smile.

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.

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*Photos taken by Stacey Greenawalt and Micah King

Want to know more about the show and meet the cast and crew? Than visit our new website here.

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KISS ME KATE Auditions at PlazaCo

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Auditions for PlazaCo’s production of KISS ME KATE are coming up next week. For more information about dates, times, what’s required AND to make an audition appointment, visit here.

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Plaza Academy’s Spring 2014 Semester Starts Next Week

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The Spring 2014 Semester has arrived at Plaza Academy – and it promises to be our best yet. Over 25 classes are available for students ages 3 to 18 including all kinds of dance, vocal and acting classes. Think your youngster will enjoy performing? Then bring them to Plaza Academy for a fun time learning the art of dancing, singing or acting.

More information as well as registration is available by visiting here.

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Plaza Theatre Company Has Launched A Re-Designed Website

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Just in time for the New Year – PlazaCo has launched a newly re-designed website. The site is much more functional and interactive allowing for easy ticket purchasing and ease-of-use for finding out everything going on at PlazaCo. Check it out by visiting here.

The Official Cast List for THE KING & I at Plaza Theatre Company

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Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce the official cast list for it’s upcoming production of THE KING & I. The show will open on January 31st and play thru March 8th. It is under the direction of Soni & Jodie Barrus with choreography by Kelli Price, musical direction by Soni Barrus, and stage management by Ruth Ann Warwick. The cast is:

Joel Lagrone – The King

Meredith Browning – Anna

Jay Cornils – Kralahome

Christia Caudle – Lady Thiang

Kate Vela – Tuptim

Jonathan Metting – Lun Tha

David Midkiff – Prince Chulalongkorn

Henry Cawood – Louis

Kendall Paredes – King’s Wife

Dawn Diyer – King’s Wife

Jordan Stone – King’s Wife

Wendy Murray – King’s Wife

Brittany Holcomb – King’s Wife

Debra Midkiff – King’s Wife

Angela Burkey – King’s Wife

Donna Moore King’s Wife

Ever Harrell – Child

I.J. Meachem – Child

Kaitie Bench – Child

Caroline Bennett – Child

Austen Stanton – Child

Eden Barrus – Children/Small House Ensemble

Miranda Barrus – Child

Rylee Mullen – Child

Emma Whitehorn – Children/Small House Ensemble

Harrison Cawood – Child

Victoria Burkey – Child

Paige Moore – Child

Megan Skinner – Child

Parker Skinner – Child

Hayden Cawood – Small House Ensemble / Interpreter

Rachel Browning – Small House Ensemble

Anna Looney – Small House Ensemble

Ben Midkiff – Small House Ensemble

Kathryn Balaban – Small House Ensemble

Suzi Hanford – Small House Ensemble/King’s Wife

Justin Diyer – Small House Ensemble

James Nicholas Hefner – Small House Ensemble

Maddie Almond – Small House Ensemble

Wendy Cariaga – Small House Ensemble

JaceSon Barrus – Capt. Orton /Sir Edward Ramsey