Archive for May, 2014

A Great Review Of CAMELOT By Scott W. Davis of The Column by John Garcia

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This past weekend saw the opening of CAMELOT at Plaza Theatre Company – and the cast and crew have delivered a magnificent show. CAMELOT plays now through June 14th, but hurry to get your seats as they are going fast! Read on for a great review of the show, then give us a call at 817-202-0600 to reserve your seats today.

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Reviewed by associate critic Scott W. Davis of The Column by John Garcia

The time is the late 5th century. King Arthur is the ruler of England and he’s out to find the one thing in life to complete him, a wife, and then build a kingdom that all would be proud of. He finds Guenevere who fills that void he so desperately needs to fill. First comes love, then comes marriage, then come Lancelot to stop the baby carriage. Plaza Theatre takes up the challenge of bringing this classic back to the stage and does it with all the fanfare it deserves.

Camelot is one of the most well known works from the famed Lerner and Loewe. Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music) wrote Camelot in 1959 and it proceeded to Broadway the following year. The team, along with Moss Hart who directed the Broadway version in 1960, adapted T. H. White’s “The Once and Future King” as their project, Camelot. Camelot opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre on December 3, 1960. After 873 performances, the show closed on January 5, 1963. In 1961 Camelot represented at the Tony Awards with five nominations, four of which came to fruition as winners. Richard Burton won for Best Actor in a Musical, Oliver Smith won for Best Scenic Design (Musical), Adrian and Tony Duquette won for Best Costume Design (Musical), Franz Allers won for Best Conductor and Musical Director, and Julie Andrews was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical. It was revived several times as well as toured the US several more times. The most notable revival happened in 1993 where famous singer, Robert Goulet, who portrayed Sir Lancelot in the original production, played King Arthur, making him the only man to ever play both of Camelot’s lead characters on Broadway.

Plaza’s version doesn’t have a veteran like Robert Goulet. It did, however, have an extremely talented group of actors and creative team behind it to make a good production. The first impression when walking into the space was one of excitement due to the colors being used around the acting area. JaceSon P. Barrus’ set was minimal but did work well for a show being done in the round. A tree on one side of the room was lit beautifully in a dark blue hue. Throughout the entire grid Mr. Barrus weaved branches to make the space look like it was canopied under trees. Catty corner to the tree was a big stone wall. Around the room on the walls were several shields painted on the walls depicting many of the Knight’s of the Roundtable. There was a mural painted in the center of the room that had the same shields in a round pattern and that was it. It wasn’t until the show started that you realized the stone wall was an entrance that spun 360 degrees to make several different scenes in front of it. Every other scene simply used furniture to create the rest of the scenes. The minimal set made great use of the space and gave the actors a lot more room in which to play.

Lighting and sound were unfortunately a disappointment. Sound Designer G. Aaron Siler did a good job with the design. The problem was the feedback that plagued the production from time to time. Cameron Barrus’ lighting was extremely below par. With the massive amount of instruments in the grid thought for sure this was going to be a well lit show but no, it wasn’t. Several of the acting areas were dark and the lighting was so uneven through the show that you started to get a headache from watching the actors walk in and out of the dark spots. Secondly, the timing of the cues was slightly off. Most transitions were quite fast which, in the end, made the cues look rather odd.

Where this show takes a swing in the other direction is with costumes and props. Tina Barrus’ costumes were flawless and all represented the period well. King Arthur’s wardrobe looked expensive, with satin trim pieces around his tunic. The knights clothing was extremely good as well. Guinevere’s wardrobe dripped elegance. In the very first scene, the powder blue dress she wore was stunning. Every piece fit each character perfectly. The armor was incredibly well made. You could tell by how well the pieces fit that each had been hand made for each actor. Now I couldn’t tell what material she used to make the chainmail shirts on the knights but it was perfect. I thought it was real chain mail till I got a close up look in the lobby after the show. The costumes took this show to a whole new level.

Properties Designer Tammie Phillips deserves kudos. While there were not as many props as costumes, Ms. Phillip’s attention to detail could be seen in every piece used. All of the cutlery, from the swords to the daggers, looked, resembled, and even sounded like the real thing. The Excalibur sword was massive in size which made it a prominent piece whenever it came out.

At first I couldn’t understand why you would have a music director when all your music is canned. Dick Helmcamp’s time was well spent getting this group of actors to sing masterfully, and wow, what an amazing group of vocalists. It can be challenging with a large group to have that level of continuity. Camelot’s actors harmonized extremely well together and never lost sync with each other. Choreography for this production was rather basic at times. There is a great sword fight, though, that was choreographed wonderfully. Rachel Hunt’s high intensity fight scene was a blast to watch. There was so much action going on in three different places, your eyes got lost in the action. She made sure that no matter where you sat you got to see some action up close.

Luke Hunt’s direction may be slightly lax on the tech side but it’s not that way with the acting. The show ran like clockwork due to his diligence in the timing of the show. The scene changes were extremely quick which kept lag time down. Mr. Hunt’s blocking was quite stellar as well. Nothing got mundane or stagnant, and no matter where the actors were standing he made sure that they opened up to all sides of the audience. The choices made as far as casting goes were near perfect.

King Arthur definitely commanded respect in this production. Hillard Cochran did a great job in his portrayal of this icon. You got two things out of Mr. Cochran during this show – great vocals and movement. He was able to tone down his singing when he had to or belt when it was necessary. His blocking and audience awareness is not the only movement I’m talking about. During one scene he is dancing with Guenevere and Mr. Cochran made it look easy. The choreography during that whole scene was very complex but he never broke a sweat or missed a beat.

Sir Lancelot was the other strong male vocal in the show. Joel Lagrone’s deep boisterous voice resonated every time he spoke. While having this bold voice, Mr. Lagrone was still able to tone down his vocals enough to not overpower the rest of the ensemble during numbers. His dedication to the role showed not just with his voice but also visually. Mr. Lagrone sold the part, with his full head of dark black hair and his facial hair tightly groomed. The minute he entered you knew he was Lancelot.

Meredith Browning takes on the most demanding role in the show, Guenevere. This character is the only character that is onstage almost the entire time. The amount of quick changes this young lady had to go through is astronomical, but not once did she miss an entrance. Vocals once again were spot on. No wavering, no pitch problems, just an all around pleasure to listen to.

Jay A Cornils and Kathy Lemons make very brief appearances as Merlyn and Nimue, The Lady of the Lake, in the show. While being brief, it really was one of the most appealing scenes in the show. Visually, the scene was beautiful, with low-lying fog coming out behind Nimue. But vocally, the two knocked it out of the park. When Ms. Lemons started singing it almost became hypnotic. They were two wonderful singers who’s two voices worked extremely together.

Ozzie Ingram was the driving force behind Sir Pellinore, a knight with an extreme sense of humor. Every time Pellinore entered you couldn’t stop laughing. His ability to deliver those lines without cracking up amazed me. Mr. Ingram, along with Robert Shores, Jesse Bowron, Michael Lain and Nathan Glenn, complete the Knights of the Round Table. All of these gentlemen needed a round of applause for the fight scene they were involved in.

Mordred does his best to ruin things for everyone. David Phillips killed it in this role. He got my best performance of the night award. There were several things that Mr. Phillips did to make this character stand out. First off is his demeanor. He almost took the character to flamboyant but held back enough to where it played as though he’s into himself and himself only. Second, Mr. Phillips was very animated. He was one of the best actors using his hands and the rest of his body to finish telling the story. Finally, his diction was superb. I could hear everything Mr. Phillips said with no problems.

This show wouldn’t, couldn’t be what it is without the participation of the entire team. From ensemble to the leads, every person in this cast did their job to make this musical as good as it was. Plaza Theatre put together a strong production that is audience friendly to all ages. I believe that Lerner and Loewe would be proud of the version of Camelot Plaza Theatre Company has produced.

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Audition Announcement: SEUSSICAL the MUSICAL at Plaza Theatre Company

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Audition Notice:

Auditions are: May 26th and May 27th, 2014

When:
May 26 & 27th
7pm – 9pm at the Plaza Theatre Company
111 S. Main St, Cleburne, TX
Auditions are by appointment only

Click here to make an audition appointment!

The production is under the direction of Tina Barrus.

Audition Preparation
Auditioners will be asked to come prepared to sing 32 bars of music, preferably in the style of the show. An accompanist will be provided. Auditioners should also be prepared to read cold from the script at the audition. Each auditioner should plan to spend about five to ten minutes auditioning for the Directors.

A call back audition will be held on Saturday May 31st starting at 9am and may last for up to three hours. Those auditioners who the Directors wish to see further will be invited to the call back audition which may last up to three hours time.

Rehersals:
Rehearsals will commence June and take place Mon. – Wed. evenings and Saturday mornings through opening. No Sunday rehearsals or performances.

Performances:
The production will play on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and Saturday afternoons opening on July 25th and playing through August 9th.

ALL ROLES ARE AVAILABLE
(some roles may be double cast)

The Cat in the Hat – is the essence of mischief, fun and imagination. The Cat stirs things up, causes trouble, but always sets things right again, helping JoJo to discover the power of his imagination as they create the story for the show together. Looking for a physically adept actor (male or female) to play the Cat, one who will be able to play many comic cameos and is comfortable improvising with an audience.

JoJo – is a “Thinker”—a smart child with a wild imagination. He can be played as being a little bit awkward, a little bit of a loner, or simply a rambunctious kid whose ‘Thinks’ get him into constant trouble.

Horton the Elephant – A gentle giant, rotund and appealing. Think of him as a bighearted blue collar guy who is steadfast and responsible and always tries to do the right thing for his friends. He is imaginative and receptive to the world around him. He is very un-self-conscious. Horton’s view of the world never changes—he believes in its goodness.

Gertrude McFuzz – Very self-conscious and aware that her one-feather tail isn’t perfect. Gertrude changes during the show from a neurotic, nervous and shy bird into one with the power to protect and care for a baby elephant bird and commit herself to Horton.

Mayzie LaBird – Self-centered, selfish and vain, Mayzie will never admit to her own flaws. She manipulates anyone she can (especially Horton) into doing what she wants. But Mayzie isn’t all bad.

Sour Kangaroo – She isn’t really sour at all. She’s just got a lot of attitude. She’s loud, brassy and a lot of fun.

General Gengus Khan Schmitz – General Schmitz is bursting with pride at the military academy he runs, and the boys he turns out. He is not sadistic, mean or abusive. He is proud! He is doing the right thing for his boys! He is making the world a better place! This makes him a comic character, because it’s clear he’s so misguided. Please don’t play him as a villain or bully.

The Wickersham Brothers – These are not bad guys! They’re simply a lot like kids who tease, play pranks and get a kick out of making mischief, although often at others’ expense. They enjoy hanging around with one another, making music together on the street corner, and playing off one another.

The Mayor of Whoville and the Mayor’s Wife – parents trying hard to raise a difficult child in a difficult world. They may get aggravated with Jojo, but they love him dearly and try to do the right thing, even if it turns out to be a mistake.

Ensemble – they play the Whos, Jungle Creatures, and Various Cameos. These characters are a wide range – in age, look, and vocal parts. Some of the roles will be featured dancers and singers as well. Some roles included in this are the Bird Girls, Yertle the Turtle, Cadets in Schmitz Academy, The Grinch, Cindy Lou Who and Vlad Vladikoff. Many of the ensemble may play between 2-5 roles in the show.

Casting Announcement: STEEL MAGNOLIAS at Plaza Theatre Company

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Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce the official Cast List for its upcoming production of STEEL MAGNOLIAS. The show is under the direction of Taffy Geisel and will play the Plaza stage from June 20th thru July 19th. More information is available by visiting www.plaza-theatre.com or by calling the Plaza Box Office at 817-202-0600.

The cast for STEEL MAGNOLIAS is as follows:

Truvy – Angela Burkey

Annelle – Brianna Knapp

Clairee – Kate Hicks

M’Lynn – Trich Zaitoon

Shelby – Kristy Lynn Mills

Ouiser – Shauna Lewis

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