Archive for the ‘ Productions ’ Category

The Official Cast List for Plaza Theatre Company’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL

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Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce the official Cast List for its upcoming production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. The show will be directed by Aaron Siler with musical direction by Doug Henry and will play at PlazaCo from November 21st thru December 23rd. The cast for A CHRISTMAS CAROL is:

Ebenezer Scrooge JaceSon P. Barrus
Charles Dickens / Fred Luke Hunt
Bob Cratchit Russ B. Walker
Jacob Marley Steven Lindsay
Charity Man 1 Gene Zorn
Charity Man 2 Jay A. Cornils
Carol Boy, Turkey Boy Carly Black / Rylee Mullen
Ghost of Christmas Past Carly Black / Rylee Mullen
Boy Scrooge Caleb Richter
Little Fan Mimi Barrus
Mr. Fezziwig Jay A. Cornils
Mrs. Fezziwig Cherie Robinson
Teen Scrooge (Eben) Levi King
Dick Wilkins Cameron Barrus
Elizabeth Madison Heaps
Letitia Haley Richter / Austen Stanton
Mary Maddie Almond / Emma Dalley
Harriet
Alfred
Anna Looney
Toby Burris
Belle Carlee Cagle
Young Scrooge David Goza
Ghost of Christmas Present G. Aaron Siler
Mrs. Cratchit Rachel Hunt
Martha Cratchit Madison Heaps
Peter Cratchit Caleb Richter
Belinda Cratchit Haley Richter / Austen Stanton
Carol Cratchit Eden Barrus
Frances Cratchit Megan Skinner / Grace Dalley
Tiny Tim Brennan Richter / Corban Vincent
Fred’s Wife Emily Warwick
Topper David Goza
Topper’s Girl Carlee Cagle
Georgina Soni Barrus
David Jay A. Cornils
Dora Cherie Robinson
Charles Gene Zorn
Ignorance Mimi Barrus
Want J.J. Barrus / Hayden Young
Ghost of Christmas Future Cameron Barrus
Laundress Suzy Shearing
Charwoman Soni Barrus
Old Joe G. Aaron Siler
Poor Wife Carlee Cagle
Poor Man David Goza
Double Quartet
Gene Zorn
G. Aaron Siler
David Goza
Levi King
Cherie Robinson
Soni Barrus
Carlee Cagle
Madison Heaps
Emily Warwick

Audition Notice: THE NERD at Plaza Theatre Company

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Audition Notice: THE NERD at Plaza Theatre Company

Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce open auditions for its upcoming production of THE NERD. The initial audition is being held on Tuesday, November 4th from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. Audition appointments are available by calling the Plaza Box Office at 817-202-0600 or by visiting http://www.plaza-theatre.com

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 Steven Lindsay and stage managed by Dave and Amy Sorter.

AUDITION INFORMATION

Those auditioning are asked to come prepared to read cold from the script during the initial audition. The directors may ask for additional character interpretation at this initial audition and will spend around 5 minutes with each individual performer at this initial audition.

A call back audition will be held on Saturday, November 8th from 9am to 12noon. Those who the Directors wish to see further will be invited to the call back audition. 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 plaza-theatre.com/auditions

PRODUCTION INFORMATION

The production will play on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and Saturday afternoons opening on December 31st and playing thru January 24th. Rehearsals will usually take place Monday thru Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings until opening. No Sunday rehearsals or performances.

SHOW INFORMATION

The story of a hilarious dilemma for a young man who is visited by a fellow ex-GI whom he has never met but who saved his life during the war. However, his awkward manner, inappropriate behavior and lack of social skill throws the visit into shambles. The Nerd is that dreaded house guest who outstays his welcome with a vengeance.

ABOUT THE THEATRE

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 76th 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 http://www.plaza-theatre.com

CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS

WILLUM Cubbert (male, mid-30s).  A professional architect, likable and sincere, unexciting and set in his ways.  Willum needs a little gumption.

TANSY McGinnis (female, about Willum’s age).  The woman about to choose between her boyfriend Willum and her career as a weather girl.  Tansy is bubbly, wry, and definitely her own woman.

AXEL Hammond (male, about Willum’s age).  Dry, wise-cracking, irreverent, devil-may-care theater critic who has never done an anonymous favor for anyone.

Warnock WALDGRAVE (male, 35-60).  Powerful, stern, and successful businessman totally lacking in imagination.  The last time Waldgrave smiled was 30 years ago, and then it was gas.

CLELIA Waldgrave (female, 30-50).  Patient but strained, harried but calm, the picture of a schoolteacher almost but not quite stressed to her breaking point.

THOR Waldgrave (male, 8-10).  The son of Warnock and Clelia Waldgrave is a bratty who is a temperamental, loud, boisterous, irrepressible young monster.

RICK Steadman (male, mid-30s).  Tactless, selfish, insensitive, aggravating, pointlessly dull, and the worst houseguest ever.  Note:  the actor playing Rick Steadman will be playing 3 parts (Rick, Kemp, and Red) and must be able to disguise his voice as Rick and Red.

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

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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.

ARE YOU READY FOR A WEDDING?
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 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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 www.plaza-theatre.com 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

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Audition Notice:

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

Directed by G. Aaron Siler
Music Direction by Doug Henry

When:
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.

PRODUCTION INFORMATION

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.

SHOW INFORMATION
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!

ALL ROLES ARE AVAILABLE

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)

Casting Announcement: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

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Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce the official Cast List for its upcoming production of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. The production will play at Plaza Theatre Company from October 17th thru November 15th and is being directed by Dennis Yslas with musical direction by Kristin Spires, choreography by Tabitha Barrus, stage management by Cessany Ford and assistant stage management by David Goza.

The cast for LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS is:

Seymour – Garrett Whitehead

Audrey – Carlee Cagle

Mr. Mushnik – Jay Lewis

Ronnette – Stacey Greenawalt

Crystal – Caitlan Leblo

Chiffon – Emily Warwick

Orin, et. al – Josh Leblo

Voice of Audrey II – Aaron Siler

Audrey II Puppeteer 1 – Clyde Berry

Audrey II Puppeteer 2 – Dash Maddox

Female Customer / Ensemble – Caitlin Karlin

Male Ensemble – Michael Sorter, Jesse Bowron, Jay Cornils

Another rockin’ review of BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO, this by Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers

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BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO is delightful! So says Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers. We couldn’t agree more. Give Paul’s great recommendation of the show a read, then give us a call at 817-202-0600 or visit www.plaza-theatre.com to reserve.

_________________________________________________________

Plaza’s BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO is delightful
by Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers

I’ve got an idea for a musical comedy built around the many 1960s and 70s hit songs written and sung by Neil Sedaka.

The story takes place at a golf course and the opening scene involves my buddies and me arriving at the clubhouse for a “boys-day-out” on the links.

While warming up on the driving range, we break into a rousing rendition of “Where the Boys Are,” as tee shots disappear into the distance and everyone expects to break par.

However, reality quickly become comedy when I triple quadruple bogey the par-5 5th hole and am serenaded with “Sweet 16” by my playing partners.

Unshaken, I stroll hand in hand with my driver to the next tee, telling it in a soulful solo that, “You Mean Everything to Me.

Lois (played by Carlee Cagle), foreground, sings the lead as Gabe and Marge (the real-life husband and wife team of Caitlan and Josh Leblo) provide backupEver the optimist on the long par 4 with a water hazard on one side and deep woods on the other, I swing away.

We introduce a touch of tragedy as it begins to rain and my tee shot takes an unexpected right turn into the forest.

As I hunt for the little sphere in the downpour, my buddies hysterically sing “Laughter in the Rain.” I, however, don’t see the humor and realize I should be driving a cab instead of a Titleist and throw my clubs into the water while singing “Breaking Up is Hard To Do.”

Knowing that I loved the game, my buddies gather ‘round and belt out “Stupid Cupid” as the curtain comes down, separating us from an angry audience.

Thankfully, there’s a better story based on Sedaka’s songs with much better singers and it’s playing at the Plaza Theatre in Cleburne through Sept. 13.

“Breaking Up is Hard To Do” is a collection of 17 Sedaka classics presented by some really good singers via a story line that is just slightly better than my golf outing but with a better ending.

Kathy Lemons as Esther Simowitz and Doug Henry as Harvey Feldman react to Harvey’s birthday present during the Plaza Theatre Company’sThe legitimate “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” is a girls from Brooklyn getaway over a Labor Day weekend at Esther’s Paradise Resort in the Catskill Mountains of upper New York, known as the Borscht Belt because of the heavily Jewish clientele and entertainers.


There are only six actors, but they can sing and, under the direction of PTC co-founder G. Aaron Siler, move quickly through the numbers, hit their comic lines and make it a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

The girls getting away from it all are Lois, played by Carlee Cagle, and Marge, played by Caitlan Leblo (pronounced lay-bow).

Cagle, who debuted at the PTC in “Kiss Me Kate,” does a good job as the true friend who tells Marge like it is, even though Marge falls for matinée idol wannabe Del Delmonaco, a cooler-than-cool David Goza, who plays it with just the right wink and tongue stuck in his cheek, but not so much as to inhibit his singing.

I didn’t know Sedaka wrote “Where the Boys Are,” and fondly remember Connie Francis’ version. However, Cagle and Leblo’s rendition is really, really good.

As Marge becomes smitten by the ill-intended advances of Delmonaco, she is blind to the sincere concern shown by clumsy Gabe, the resorts handyman played by Josh Leblo, Caitlan’s real-life husband.

If you haven’t seen Josh at the PTC before, you’re in for a pleasant surprise because his mellow tenor voice is outstanding.

This is Josh’s fifth PTC production, the most recent of which was “Bye, Bye Birdie” last year, but this is the first time he is featured on so many songs.

He plays such a nerd that you’re sort of surprised during his first song, but soon look forward to many more.

Completing the cast are Kathy Lemons as Esther Simowitz, the resort’s owner, and Doug Henry as Harvey Feldman, the comic/emcee who serves as a ring master and has a secret crush on Esther.

According to the Playbill, Henry is right at home, since during the summer of 1985 he professionally performed in several of the nightclubs or “showrooms,” as many were called, in the Catskills.

Henry was a member of a headline act of six men known as the Winged Victory Singers, the Playbill says.

The hotels — Kutsher’s, Brown’s, Stevensville, Grossinger and Brickman ­— where he performed, were huge layouts with nicely furnished showrooms for a 1,000 or more people. Each had its own “house” band. People from New York City and other Northeast cities would visit these cooler-climate locations in the summer to escape the heat, the Playbill says.

Here’s the deal. Plot or not, if you like Sedaka’s songs, you’ll love “Breaking Up is Hard To Do.”

With stage management by Dana Siler, costume design by Stefanie Glenn, from a book by Erik Jackson and Ben H. Winters with music by Neil Sedaka and lyrics by Sedaka, Howard Greenfield and Philip Cody, “Breaking Up” plays at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays through Sept. 13 at the Plaza Theatre, 111 N. Main 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. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, or by phone at 817-202-0600.

An outstanding review of BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO by Eric Bird of The Column by John Garcia

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BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO opened at Plaza Theatre Company this past weekend to Sold Out houses and standing ovations. And now critics agree that the show is a hit as Eric Bird of The Column by John Garcia said the show is, “…currently being masterfully performed at Plaza Theatre Company”. Read on for his outstanding recommendation of the show, then give us a call at 817-202-0600 or visit http://www.plaza-theatre.com to make reservations.

_____________BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO________________

by Eric Bird of The Column by John Garcia

What do you get when you combine two young, single Brooklyn women in search of romance, a Catskills resort, Labor Day weekend, and talented singers performing the works of the classic Neil Sedaka? The answer is simple: you have Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, currently being masterfully performed at Plaza Theatre Company.

Neil Sedaka rose to early fame during the late 1950’s when he left The Tokens, the band formed by Sedaka and a few of his classmates. Following those early years of success Sedaka went through almost sixty years of ups and downs, ranging from great success to a decline in popularity. Breaking Up Is Hard to Do showcases nineteen Sedaka songs, including “Where the Boys Are”, “Sweet Sixteen”, “Betty Grable”, “Stupid Cupid”, and of course the song from which the show’s title comes, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”.

Carlee - Josh - CaitlanThe musical is a comedy that follows six characters at Esther’s Paradise Resort during the Summer of 1960. The two young women head there for the Labor Day weekend to escape from their lives and also to meet some boys, as we see in the song “Where the Boys Are”. While at the Catskills they meet Del Delmonaco, a talented singer and lead performer at Esther’s Paradise.

JaceSon P. Barrus designed the set which worked well for the story of the musical. I especially enjoyed the black record disk painted in the center of the floor to set the mood and establish the time period of the show. Most of the physical set was in one corner of the theatre space where the actors had a backstage area to get ready for the shows. The main stage within the musical was set in another corner, with a sign for Esther’s Paradise and curtains to establish the stage within a stage.

G. Aaron Siler did an extraordinary job designing the sound for the musical. There was never a time where I could not hear the actors, though there were a few instances where the microphones were a second late being switched on. The music, of course, added to the show, keeping me involved in what the characters were doing onstage, and setting the mood. While the musical did not require many sound effects, the ones used were clear and timed well, such as the buzzing of a neon sign dying out.

The lighting, also designed by G. Aaron Siler, kept all the action clear, changing the mood of the scene where it was needed. I especially enjoyed the feel created with the song “The Diary”, using a disco light during a dream sequence to highlight the change from reality to dream.

DavidCostume design by Stefanie Glenn fit perfectly within the realm of the 1960’s setting. I especially liked that the costumes showed the personalities of the different actors. Marge and Gabe are extremely shy, conservative types so Glenn dresses him as the shy nerd with the pants that were just a little too short, nerdy glasses, and a shirt buttoned up to his chin. Marge wore long skirts with large glasses that added to the image of her character. Del and Lois are flamboyant, night club performers so their colors were equally as bright. Glenn also did very well coordinating for the show performances within the musical. “Calendar Girl” had all female characters (and Harvey) on the stage in similar costumes of long-sleeved button-up blouses and very full, floral print skirts. This helped to visually link the characters without distracting from the action on the stage. The costumes also suggested each character’s personality while still flowing within the show.

Properties were designed by Tammie Phillips and all reflected the 1960’s well. The standing microphone used during the “show” took the audience back to a time before head mics. The mannequin head used in the beginning added a comedic tone to the songs “Lonely Night” and “I Ain’t Hurtin’ No More”. The props used during the song, “The Diary”, kept me wondering what would come out next since they were hilarious and fun to see (I don’t want to spoil it, see the show to know what I mean). Of course, Roberto Antonio El Pollo, the rubber chicken, can’t be left out since he was very prominent during several parts of the show.

Caitlan Leblo played the part of Marge, the shy, socially awkward young woman who was abandoned at the altar. Caitlan portrayed Marge with comedic timing and incredible vocal talent, especially noticeable during “Lonely Night”, “I Ain’t Hurtin’ No More” and “Laughter in the Rain”. Her awkward mannerisms also helped establish her character’s shy ways and nerdiness. Caitlan used a hunched posture and intensity when Marge spoke of orthodontia, but when other characters were on stage she would be quiet and still, letting them dominate the conversation. Caitlan brought Marge to life and created a character that I wanted to see become happy.

Doug - KathySlightly nerdy young handyman Gabe was played by Josh Leblo. I enjoyed how he portrayed Gabe and how believable he was onstage. Josh would walk with his shoulders stooped and his eyes down, indicating Gabe’s awkwardness and lack of confidence. Josh had a pleasant singing voice that was especially noticeable during “The Diary” and “The Other Side of Me”. His interactions with Marge were comical in how awkward they both were towards each other, making his character even more real. Josh made good acting choices in developing his character and bringing him to life onstage.

David Goza played the part of the talented, strong-willed and arrogant Del Delmonaco. He was fun to watch as he portrayed Goza’s high ego and confident presence onstage Goza would smirk and nod his head as his character got a compliment, showing how arrogant Delmonaco was, which made him a joy to watch throughout the show. He did have a bit of a rocky start during the first song, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”, but recovered and went on to give a very enjoyable performance. I especially enjoyed his singing during “Oh, Carol!” and “Calendar Girl”. Goza showed good acting skills in playing a complete jerk who has no thoughts but for himself that we wanted to watch even more.

Lois Warner was portrayed by Carlee Cagle. Lois is the kind of character with a big heart yet is not able to reason through things completely. Cagle was masterful in portraying this role, keeping her eyes wide to show her character’s innocence and simple-mindedness. Her singing was great throughout, especially during “Stupid Cupid”, “My Friend” and “Stairway to Heaven/Little Devil”. I was impressed with her accent, which never faltered, and with her dancing, especially during “Stupid Cupid”. Cagle was a joy to see onstage, having believable interactions with the other characters and showing strong acting skills.

Josh - CaitlanDoug Henry played the part of Harvey Feldman, the resident career bachelor that spends his life cracking jokes about life and everyone around him. Henry had a good voice that was especially noticeable during his solo, “King of Clowns”. His interactions with Esther were also enjoyable to see. There was a scene where Feldman is backstage, coming up with new jokes to use in his act. It really impressed me how Henry played this so realistically, looking up at the ceiling while he thought about his jokes and changed the inflection of his voice as he worked on new punch lines. Henry’s acting accelerated throughout the show, creating a fun dynamic in how his character is perceived and how that character manages to grow.

Kathy Lemons played the part of Esther Simowitz, the owner of Esther’s Paradise, who lost her husband several years before. Lemons portrayed her as very dynamic, personable woman yet managed to keep the tone light, while also keeping things moving at the hotel. Though Lemons had very few songs, she sang them well. There were also several times when Simowitz was making an announcement over the intercom and Lemons inflected her voice so well that you could understand what her character was feeling even though she was offstage. Lemons interactions with the other actors was where her character’s true self emerged, showing a dynamic and enjoyable personality.

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do is an enjoyable musical that will have you wanting more. With a very talented cast and friendly atmosphere, Plaza Theatre brings this musical comedy to life, showcasing Neil Sedaka’s great songs. And with ticket prices is low, I highly recommend this show for an enjoyable evening of music.

CASTING NEWS: Plaza Theatre Company announces the official Cast List for FATHER OF THE BRIDE

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Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce the official Cast List for its upcoming production of FATHER OF THE BRIDE. The show will play from September 19th thru October 11th and will be directed by Jodie and Soni Barrus with Stage Management by Ruth Ann Warwick and Assistant Stage Management by Nathan Glenn. Tickets for the show are available now by calling the PlazaCo Box Office at 817-202-0600 or by visiting www.plaza-theatre.com

The Cast for FATHER OF THE BRIDE is: (Double cast where noted)

Stanley Banks        Luke Hunt

Elle Banks                Barbara Richardson

Kay Banks               Rachel Larsen

Kay Banks               Tabitha Barrus

Ben Banks               Parker Barrus

Tommy Banks        Nolan Moralez

Buckley Dunstan  Michael Sorter

Buzz Taylor             Toby Burris

Peggy Swift              Madison Heaps

Deliliah                      Pam Valle

Mrs. Bellamy          Cherie Robinson

Mr. Massoula          Russ Walker

Joe                              Nathan Glenn

Mrs. Pulitzki            Ellen Shelby

Red                             JaceSon Barrus

Pete                           Aaron Siler

Movers                    Joe Robinson

Florist                     RuthAnn Warwick

A Very Fine Review of SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL from Charlie Bowles of The Column by John Garcia

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SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL plays one more weekend at PlazaCo – and if you haven’t had a chance to see the most colorful show of the summer, there’s still time. Read on for a great review of the show from Charlie Bowles of The Column by John Garcia and then call 817-202-0600 or visit www.plaza-theatre.com to reserve your seats.

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by Charlie Bowles of The Column by John Garcia

Oh the things you can think and the things you can see When you go down to Cleburne, down to Plaza TC. But hurry. Oh hurry! Only one weekend more. For after one weekend, this story will soar.

There’s Horton and JoJo and Sour Kangaroo. There’s Mayzie and Gertrude and Vlad Vladikoff too. The Whos down in Whoville are in a terrible stew, But Mr. Mayor and the Missus don’t know what to do. Maybe Horton and JoJo can save this small clover. Who knows? The Cat will tell us when it’s over.

Yes, it‘s a requirement in the Reviewer’s Handbook that, “when reviewing Dr. Seuss, the reviewer must resort to Seuss-Speak at least once.” So, having fulfilled my responsibility, we shall now return to normal language.

Seussical the Musical is basically “Horton Hears a Who” for the live stage, with a bit of “Horton Hatches the Egg”, “The One Feather Tail of Gertrude McFuzz”, and pieces of several other stories thrown in for interest. It’s a musical that theaters use as a platform for young actors of all levels, and it plays perfectly for delighted children. But make no mistake – it’s a musical for adults as well. It enjoyed 232 performances on Broadway, off-Broadway, two U.S. tours and a West End run.

Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty crafted a tight book and score, blending the themes of Dr. Seuss and his favorite language-isms with fantastically fun music to tell the tale. Combine this with a variety of creative scenic designs and a costume designer’s dream, plus a few good singers to provide wonderful entertainment for the whole family, and that’s exactly what you’ll get at Plaza Theatre Company in downtown Cleburne.

Seussical was directed by Tina and Tabitha Barrus, though this show is a complete Barrus family collaboration, including Cameron Barrus’ light design, Tina Barrus’ costumes, along with Rachel Bond, and JaceSon Barrus’ set design. Lighting made the set bright and colorful, but also included moving projections on the floor that showed a Seussical logo picture, simulated the Jungle of Nool pool and gave us some other images. There was an effect using a scrim in the corner which allowed the Whoville ensemble to show the damage while their clover was tossed around by the Wickershams out on the floor.

The set wasn’t complicated; a painted floor, wall murals around the audience, and a few set pieces rolling on and off at times. Actually, the stage needed to be empty because the cast was huge! Seussical is a big ensemble piece, one of the things that makes it fun. Lots of kids and voices, colorful costumes and amazing hairpieces fill the stage. It’s like a Barnum & Bailey curtain call. Aside from the nineteen named characters, there are twenty-two members that make up the Jungle of Nool and Who ensembles. And PTC completed a recent summer camp with twenty-four students invited to be in the show, half in each performance. So, at any time, the audience might see forty to fifty actors on stage. That’s a lot of color and voices. With Seussical’s big ensemble numbers, there was a gigantic wall of sound.

Sound design was by G. Aaron Siler. Backing music came from tracks and the balance between voices and music was perfect. I’m not sure why they needed head mics at all, given the cast size and volumes of songs. It created a few issues when a solo was not turned on at the start of a song. But overall the mix between mic’d singers and the ensemble was well balanced.

The usual collection of Seussian props was found by Stacey Greenawalt and Josh Garner. Horns and swords and fish and tails – it was a smorgasbord. They made a neat rolling tree for Mayzie La Bird which Horton then used while protecting her egg. This could be rolled around and used as Horton was escorted around the world during his circus tour. The Cat in the Hat used many props in all his guises, most notably the Hat.

Tabitha Barrus was also the Music Director and Kelly Nickell got the nod as Choreographer. Both were obviously daunting tasks, as at times the cast filled every inch of the stage floor. Getting them to move with purpose and sing together as one was an accomplishment. The dance numbers were a unified pattern of movement and the ensemble orchestrations were harmonious music that filled the air. You couldn’t help but get a huge energy boost from the show.

The story, of course, is about Horton, Gertrude and JoJo, with his “thinks” that started this story. Each has a lesson to learn about themselves and together they teach everyone else some valuable lessons as well.

Horton was played by Brian Lawson. With a very impressionistic costume of a hat with long “ears” and long tie for a trunk, we knew who he was by sight. Horton is a mild, meek, but loyal elephant who would give his life for another. Lawson easily fit into this character as he slowly lumbered around the stage, spoke Seuss rhymes in meek tones, and chased, captured and protected the Whoville clover. As Horton is ridiculed at first and then mistreated by the Jungle of Nool characters, Lawson portrayed the gradual growth of Horton in his change of voice and confident stature. Horton sings some of the more important and beautiful songs in this music score. My favorite has always been the haunting ballad, Solla Sollew, which becomes a duet with JoJo, then later a four-piece with the Mayor and Mrs. Mayor, JoJo’s parents. Lawson had a nice tenor voice that carried all Horton’s songs well. His voice could handle the sustains, blended harmoniously with the others, and showed emotional depth with every song. The emotions of musicals are most often found in the songs and Lawson’s acting ability also filled each song with a visible emotional quality.

Gertrude McFuzz is the young girl bird who wants her tail to be long and lush like her idol, Mayzie La Bird. Molly Morgan played Gertrude and matched Lawson’s Horton well, as a bird-in-love, blaming her short tail when Horton fails to notice her. Morgan gave an excellent performance as Gertrude, finding her bird-ness and playing all the movements of an uncoordinated bird to the hilt. Some of her postures as Gertrude, in trying to attract Horton, were hilarious. Morgan also had a voice that worked well for Gertrude, especially when she lamented her plight during “Notice Me Horton”, and in duet with Lawson during “Yopp!/Alone in the Universe”. Morgan had the task of being both a primary comic relief (okay, pretty much all the characters were comic relief) and subject of the tender love story. She balanced this with her outrageous physical comedy while simultaneously singing and showing her love for Horton.

JoJo is the son of the Mayor of Whoville. He’s a quintessential, troublesome boy, which for a Who involves “thinks,” that maddening imagination that dreams up wild stories. In fact, the whole story could be a “think.” JoJo was played by Stephen Newton for the reviewed performance, and had no trouble becoming young JoJo. Newton is only a 5th grader, but despite his youth, he sang with a confident voice, especially in several solos and duets with Horton. He also sang with the Cat and his best song was “Alone in the Universe”, a repeated refrain throughout the show. Newton was very energetic as the young student of the Cat, even when it got him into trouble, and he did a fine job taking the stage as the storyteller along with the narrating Cat.

The Cat in the Hat was played by Zachary Willis who shaped events, narrated the story, and acted as many sub-characters that only appeared once. Willis commanded the stage as the narrator and slipped between audience and story time easily. His jazzy Cat-like movements, along with a characteristic Cat costume and the Hat made him stand out wherever he was. A good singer, his songs were usually with other characters and the ensemble, but I especially liked his solo, “How Lucky You Are,” which set up one of the main themes for Seuss’ stories. While Willis slipped into and out of the minor characters, every kid in the audience knew who he really was, but every character he played was a delight to see and hear.

There are so many other characters to mention: Mayzie La Bird, played by Jessica Taylor, excited the audience with her “Amazing Mayzie” and “Amazing Horton” songs. The Mayor of Whoville, played by JaceSon P. Barrus, looked and acted the part of a blustery mayor with a soft spot for his family. Along with Mrs. Mayor, played by Emily Warwick, their songs told the tale of parents trying to raise a son in a confused world. “How to Raise a Child” spoke to every parent in the audience and their part in “Solla Sollew” was beautifully harmonized with JoJo and Horton. Caroline Rivera portrayed the brassy and bossy Sour Kangaroo. Canadian-trained in theater and classical music, Rivera had the powerful voice this character needs and her solo phrases in the Jungle of Nool songs made you sit up and listen.

The entire ensemble, a wonderful group of actors and singers, filled the theater space with glorious song and the audience with joy and laughter, and lit up children’s faces for the entire performance. Seussical The Musical is a “children’s show” that leaves a message for those of any age, for those who are truly young at heart. It well deserves to be seen by young and old. Gather up the family soon as it plays only a few more times this weekend.