Archive for September, 2014

“Are You Ready For A Wedding?” by Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers


PlazaCo’s production of FATHER OF THE BRIDE has received another great review, this time from Paul Gnadt of The Star Group newspapers. Read on then give us a call at 817-202-0600 to come see the show.

by Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers

A young actor who used to hit set shots from behind the 3-point line is now hitting his lines on the set in the Plaza Theatre Company’s current presentation of “Father of the Bride.”

Michael Sorter, who played basketball for Joshua High School as a sophomore, has a co-starring role in the comedy that is the PTCs 79th production since it opened in 2006.
Sorter decided to take a shot at acting after his mother, Amy, was cast in a few PTC productions. He earned bench-warmer roles in Plaza’s “Dear Ruth,” “Camelot” and “Ragtime,” and liked it so much that he transferred to the Forth Worth Academy of Fine Arts, where he is a senior with a stage presence far beyond his years.

Sorter’s timing, delivery and sincerity come through in Plaza’s intimate 160-seat theater-in-the-round and make him believable as the groom-to-be who doesn’t want a large wedding and would rather elope than go through the hassle.

Sorter isn’t the only “youngster” in the cast. The bride is double cast, played by Tabitha Barrus, a college freshman who is already a veteran of 39 PTC productions and has grown up before the eyes of many audiences, and Rachal Larsen, another FWAFA senior who played the role on the night I attended.

Larsen nailed the giddiness, nervousness and hesitancy of a bride to be.

Parker Barrus (his 14th PTC production) and Nolan Moralez are two other youthful actors who turn in good performances as brothers to the bride.

Holding it together are PTC veteran Luke Hunt, who, in his 25th PTC production, is Stanley Banks, the father of the bride, and Barbara Richardson as Elle Banks, the bride’s mother.
Here’s the deal: While Buckley Dunston (the groom played by Sorter) wants a small wedding, Kay, the bride-to-be, wants to invite all of her friends.

They agree to the guest list will not exceed 50, but soon the invitation list mushrooms to 300 and Stanley Banks, the father of the bride, has visions of going broke.

Those visions become a nightmare of bankruptcy when the Banks realize they forgot to include the guests who will be invited by the groom’s family.

Things get more confusing, and awkwardly funny, when the Banks family attempts to reduce expenses by inviting some guests only to the church and others only to the reception.
The most difficult marriage of all might be the blending by Hunt of the portrayal of Mr. Banks, played in two movies by the great Spencer Tracy and then, years later, by Steve Martin.
Hunt, the theater arts director at Alvarado High School, nicely combines Tracy’s cool with Martin’s off-the-wall intensity.

Pamela Valle as Delilah the maid, Cherie Robinson as Mrs. Bellamy the secretary and Madison Heaps as Peggy, the girlfriend of Ben Banks, give good support and have some funny lines.
Russ Walker is perfect as Mr. Massoula, the pompous caterer who transforms the Banks’ living room into a buffet restaurant.

Co-directed by Soni and Jodie Barrus, with costumes by Stacey Greenawalt, “Father of the Bride” is presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 11 at the Plaza Theatre Company, 111 S. 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, 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.






Charlie Bowles of The Column By John Garcia Delivers A Splendid Review Of FATHER OF THE BRIDE


FATHER OF THE BRIDE opened this past weekend at PlazaCo, and Charlie Bowles of John Garcia’s The Column has written a lovely review of the show. We are so very proud of our stellar cast and crew for their hard work and hope you’ll take time to come and enjoy it. As Mr. Bowles aptly states, “it’s nice to be reminded that good can prevail and happy endings do happen”. Read on for a great review, then call 817-202-0600 or visit to reserve.


_________________FATHER OF THE BRIDE__________________

by Charlie Bowles of John Garcia’s The Column

Throughout the ages, a marriage of a daughter has caused fits and complications to countless fathers. A daughter’s wedding can be a scourge for brave men everywhere, and judging by the wedding reality shows on TV, it doesn’t seem to be going away.

Even Shakespeare knew the score. “The father of a daughter is nothing but a high-class hostage…. (W)hen his daughter puts her arm over his shoulder and says, ‘Daddy, I need to ask you something,’ he is a pat of butter in a hot frying pan.”

Banks and BuckleyBut it was Edward Streeter in 1949 who wrote the definitive guide for the modern man, Father of the Bride. That was followed by movies in 1950 with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor and in 1991 with Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and Martin Short. What with sequels for both movies, a 1960’s TV series, and knockoffs, the subject continues to teach new generations of fathers about this age-old challenge.

Caroline Francke wrote a stage play in 1951 based on Streeter’s book and it’s that version playing in Cleburne at Plaza Theatre Company. The basic story is well known. Kay falls in love with Buckley and Mr. Banks gets to pay the bills, though everyone else chooses what he pays for. Zaniness ensues as the small, private wedding with fifty guests grows into a 300-guest extravaganza and father and daughter learn how important they are to each other.

Father of the Bride at PTC was directed by Jodie and Soni Barrus, who also designed the set, sound, and props. It was a fair representation of a living and dining room in a 1950’s middle class house. This production was set in ’55, though the play was written in ’51. It was a living room suite, dining room table, small office desk with old typewriter, and a stairway to an upstairs in the house, and was realistic because it looked like my grandmother’s house from my childhood in the 50’s. There were lots of props, not just for the home but also wedding presents and packages, and props the actors used that captured their character, like Tommy Banks’ constant football. Cameron Barrus lit the stage with standard colors and lights and a bright illumination to a comedic style of play.

Sound design was both good and bad. It was wonderful entering the theater to the strains of Dion, Sinatra, Dean Martin and other staples of 50’s playing for pre-show, intermission, bows, scene change, and periodic moments to back up some textual point. There were also a few music sequences, such as a Jaws Shark theme which created tension around the ever-growing the Banksinvitation list. But Jaws wasn’t around in ‘55 and this seemed out of place and a bit distracting for that reason, though it was clear what it implied. It was also distracting when the old 1950’s dial telephone on the desk rang from somewhere up in the rafters. And, as is often the case when actors use head mics, there were times when actors started talking before their mics were active or when their voice came from one side of the stage while they were on the opposite.

Costumes were designed by Stacey Greenawalt to put actors into a wide range of mid-50’s middle-class clothing, including below-the-knee print dresses for women and plaid jackets and suits for men. Kay, the daughter, wore numerous “modern” dresses, including what looked like a long denim dress, a 50’s polka dot white hoopskirt, and eventually a wedding gown. Costumes supported the story well, were never out of period, and lent great color to the scenes.

Characters included members of the Banks family, the fiancé, and various friends, girlfriends and employees, all of whom had some reason to try and influence the wedding. But the two most important characters in the play were Mr. Banks and daughter Kay.

Luke Hunt played Mr. Banks. His character was clearly supposed to be a hapless, but wise because of years realizing he had very little real power in his castle. Hunt created a nicely crafted arc from the opening moment when he seemed confused about “what’s going on” with his daughter, through several levels of denials, then acceptance, about her marriage plans and the boy she was going to marry, and a man who created a relationship with Kay most men with daughters can identify. Hunt gave Mr. Banks a father-knows-best attitude, especially when counseling his future son-in-law about the realities of husbandry. Hunt was completely believable in this role, both in his look and his demeanor. Many of us had fathers like that. Others have seen this father on older TV shows and movies. He used a calm, confident acting style, even in the midst of scenic turmoil, to make the audience like his character.

Kay Banks is barely an adult, still living at home and acting a bit like a teenager demanding to be treated like an adult. Rachel Larsen played Kay and she was also believable in her role. Larsen gave Kay the impetuousness of a teenager and a confidence in Kay’s new adulthood. Of course, the first and frequent blockade to her plans was her father, so Kay and Mr. Banks Banks boyshad a lot of scenes, and this is where Larsen and Hunt worked well together. Larsen devolved into tears and anger frequently and moved into and out of these emotional scenes comfortably. Larsen showed her character’s experiences through subtle changes in physicality to show the woman Kay had to become.

Hunt often had to play against these tirades and did so by sometimes allowing Mr. Banks to lose his own control, but always bringing him back to the constant father, frustrated and yet strong enough to care for and console his child. Together, we saw a relationship develop and it was Hunt and Larsen who made this transition fun to watch.

Mrs. Banks and her sons, Ben and Tommy, fit right into the complete Happy Days type family. Mrs. Banks supports and expects much of the father but sided with the daughter when it came to marriage. Barbara Richardson played her and was both a good partner and foil to Hunt. Through her we felt empathy for the family unit. She had a calm style to mirror Hunt’s, but also created through her voice and directness the demeanor of a woman who ruled the family from a position of quiet strength.

Younger brother Tommy was the main comic in the Banks family, exposing absurdities in everyone’s behaviors. Nolan Moralez made Tommy act like younger brothers do, laying on the floor while teasing his sister and poking fun at mom and dad, being a bit “disrespectful” by showing his devil-may-care style. Tommy’s comic barbs were delivered wryly with a sharp wit by Moralez. But it was clear through his self-limits that Tommy knew how far he could go without really disrespecting his parents.

Other comic moments came from Delilah, the housekeeper, played with great physical aplomb by Pamela Valle, and from Miss Bellamy, played by Cherie Robinson. Valle’s Delilah was a hoot from the opening moments. She gave Delilah the same kind of comic impact Ann B. Davis in the Brady Bunch had, making Delilah an important and beloved character. Her maidquestioning of everything, exasperation when the zaniness arrived, and especially when her house was completely upset by the wedding planners was classic comedy. Valle used great timing with these lines and it created great laughter.

Cherie Robinson took Miss Bellamy, Mr. Banks’ secretary who was trying to control the growing guest list, to heights of indignation and eventual explosion, emotionally and then physically, as her outbursts escalated to outrage. Her sudden resignation in the midst of Robinson’s complete meltdown forced the Banks family to come to terms with their crazy behavior.

Buckley Dunstan was played by Michael Sorter. The tall, lanky, red-haired young actor made Buckley into a studious character, serious and focused on Kay, but fell back into being a boy who needed a father’s guidance, in this case Mr. Banks, through the pre-wedding jitters and struggles with Kay. Sorter made Buckley ride a roller coaster of many emotions from confidently happy with Buckley’s choices to distraught and lost when Buckley’s plans fell apart.

Father of the Bride was old-fashioned and a bit schmaltzy, like watching episodes of Father Knows Best or a rerun of White Christmas. There’s no big revelation and you know everything that’ll happen. But there’s comfort in that. It’s like reliving an earlier, safer time in our lives. Though it has no edge, it’s nice to be reminded that good can prevail and happy endings do happen.

Audition Notice: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Plaza Theatre Company


Audition Notice:

Auditions are: September 22nd and September 23rd, 2014

Directed by G. Aaron Siler
Music Direction by Doug Henry

Monday, September 22- Tuesday, September 23, 2014
7pm – 9pm at the Plaza Academy Studio
211 S. Mill St, Cleburne, TX
Auditions are by appointment only

Click here to make an audition appointment!AUDITION INFORMATION
Those auditioning are asked to come prepared to sing 32 bars of music in the style of traditional Christmas Carols that will best display their vocal ability. An accompanist will be provided. Additionally, auditioners will be asked to read cold from the script during the initial audition. The directors will spend around 5 to 10 minutes with each individual auditioner at this initial audition.

A call back audition will be held on Saturday, September 27th at 9am. Those auditioners 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 FOR A CHRISTMAS CAROL. The guidelines and Credo can be found here.


The production will play on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and Saturday afternoons opening on November 21st and playing through December 23rd. Rehearsals will commence on September 29th and take place Monday thru Tuesday evenings, Saturday mornings, and some Wednesday evenings till opening. No Sunday rehearsals or performances.

Our semi-annual production of this timeless Christmas tale is back again for 2014. You’ll thrill to our original adaptation of this majestic story of change and forgiveness as the cantankerous Scrooge sees his life from the past, present and future. A wonderful holiday event for the whole family!


Ebenezer Scrooge – The miserly owner of a nineteenth century London counting-house. (M 43-60)

Charles Dickens / Scrooge’s Nephew Fred – The Narrator who tells the story throughout as well as taking the role of Scrooge’s Nephew Fred, a genial man who loves Christmas. (M 30-45)

Double Quartet – Characters who support narration and sing very well while playing some of the main characters listed below as well. (4M – 4F)

Bob Cratchit – Scrooge’s clerk, a kind, mild, and very poor man with a large family.(M 35-50)

Tiny Tim – Bob Cratchit’s young son, crippled from birth. (M 5-7)

Mrs. Cratchit – Bob Cratchit’s wife and the Mother of Bob’s 6 children. (F 30-45)

Jacob Marley – In the living world, Ebenezer Scrooge’s equally greedy partner. Marley died seven years before the narrative opens. He appears to Scrooge as a ghost condemned to wander the world bound in heavy chains. Marley hopes to save his old partner from su ering a similar fate. (M 45-60)

The Ghost of Christmas Past – The rst spirit to visit Scrooge. (F – 6-9)

The Ghost of Christmas Present – The second spirit to visit Scrooge.(M 35-60)

The Ghost of Christmas Future – The third and nal spirit to visit Scrooge, a silent phantom clad in a hooded black robe. (M)

Mr. & Mrs. Fezziwig – The jovial merchant with whom the young Scrooge apprenticed. (M / W 40-60)

Belle – A beautiful woman who Scrooge loved deeply when he was a young man. (W 20-30)

Peter Cratchit – Bob’s oldest son. (M 11-13)

Martha Cratchit – Bob’s oldest daughter. (F 13-15)

Little Fan – Scrooge’s sister in ashback. (F 10-12)

Charity Men – Two gentlemen who visit Scrooge at the beginning of the tale seeking charitable contributions. (M 30-65)

Old Joe, Laundress, Charwoman – People who steal Scrooge’s belongings when he’s dead. (M / W / W 30-65)

Fred’s Wife – Fred’s very high class but fun-loving wife. (W 25-40)

Topper / Topper’s Girl – Party Guests at Fred’s Christmas party. (M / W 20-35)