Archive for the ‘ Productions ’ Category

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


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 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


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

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


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 to reserve your seats.


___________________SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL_____________________

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.

AUDITION NOTICE – Little Shop of Horrors at Plaza Theatre Company


Audition Notice: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Plaza Theatre Company

Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce open auditions for its upcoming production of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. The initial audition is being held on Monday August 18th or Wednesday August 20th from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. Auditioners need only make an appointment for one of the available days. Audition appointments are available by calling the Plaza Box Office at 817-202-0600 or by visiting here: Plaza Audition Appointments

The audition will be held at Plaza Academy which is located at 221 Mill Street in Cleburne about one block from Plaza Theatre Company. The show will be directed by Dennis Yslas with musical direction by Kristin Spires, choreography by Tabitha Barrus and Stage Management by Cessany Ford.


Those auditioning are asked to come prepared to sing 16 bars of music in the style of the show that will best display their vocal ability. An accompanist will be provided. Additionally, those auditioning will be asked to read cold from the script during the initial audition. The directors will spend around 5 minutes with each individual performer at this initial audition.

A call back audition will be held on Saturday August 23rd at 9am – if necessary. Those 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. The guidelines and Credo can be found at


The production will play on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and Saturday afternoons opening on October 17thand playing thru November 15th. Rehearsals will usually take place Monday thru Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings until opening. No Sunday rehearsals or performances. Rehearsals will begin Aug. 25.


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


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 77th show. The Company has been the proud recipient of over 49 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 and clicking ‘Auditions’.


Seymour Krelborn – A menial laborer at Mushnik’s Flower Shop, Seymour Krelborn is the improbable hero of the story. Nebbish-like and insecure, he is naive and feels much put-upon. In spite of his flaws, he’s a sweet and well-meaning little man. Seymour is the owner of the carnivorous plant, Audrey II. – Tenor

Audrey -The gum-snapping, bleached-blond secret love of Seymour’s life, Audrey works with Seymour at the flower shop. Lacking in education and self-esteem, she suffers from feelings of hopelessness at her situation in life, including her abusive relationship with her boyfriend, Orin Scrivello. Seymour names his plant after her. Soprano

Mr. Mushnik – Owner of Mushnik’s Flower Shop, a failing business on Skid Row, Mr. Mushnik is given to cursing in Yiddish. He is a man who seldom smiles and often yells. Baritone

Orin Scrivello – Audrey’s dentist boyfriend, Orin Scrivello is a motorcycle-riding black leather jacket-wearing tough-guy. He is tall, dark, handsome, and sadistic. His fondness for his own nitrous oxide proves to be his undoing. Baritone

Audrey II – A wise-cracking anthropomorphic cross between a Venus flytrap and an avocado with teeth, Audrey II is Seymour’s favorite and soon-famous plant. Seymour purchased the plant at Chang’s Flower Shop during a mysterious total eclipse of the sun; but once the plant has the taste of human blood there is no stopping it. Baritone / Bass

Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon – Three female street urchins who function as participants in the action and as “doo-wop” chorus girls outside it, Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon often sing directly to the audience in a hip, narrative style. Mezzo to Soprano

The following 3 roles are played by the same actor who must sing Baritone / Tenor

Patrick Martin – A sleazy opportunist, Patrick Martin tries to talk Seymour and Mr. Mushnik into leaf cuttings of Audrey II.

Bernstein – An uptown bigshot from NBC, Bernstein offers Seymour his own gardening show.

Mrs. Luce – The wife of the editor of Life magazine

Derelicts, Skid Row Occupants and Customers – a small ensemble of actors to fill out roles throughout the show. Must be able to sing.

Casting Announcement: BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO at Plaza Theatre Company


Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce the Cast List for its upcoming production of BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO. The show is under the direction of G. Aaron Siler with Musical Direction by Doug Henry and Stage Management by Dana Siler. The show will play at PlazaCo from August 15th thru September 13th. The Cast List is as follows:

Marge Gelman – Cailan Leblo

Lois Warner – Carlee Cagle

Del Delmonaco – David Goza

Gabe – Josh Leblo

Esther – Kathy Lemons

Harvey – Doug Henry

A Stellar Review of STEEL MAGNOLIAS by Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers


The production team, cast and crew of STEEL MAGNOLIAS have all received an incredible review from Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers. We are proud to have the excellent work of all involved on the PlazaCo stage and hope you’ll take the time to see the show before it closes July 19th. Read on for a great review and then call 817-202-0600 to get your seats.


by Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers

The camaraderie and bonding of the beauty parlor — free of concern about social status or position on the career ladder — must be for women what the golfing trip or fishing expedition is for men: a time and place where anything goes, everything can be discussed off-the-record and everybody remains friends.

The conversations can be side-splitting funny one minute and painfully truthful the next.
Even downright heartbreaking.

But you go again and again.

IMG_8219That’s the way it is at Truvy’s Beauty Spot, the Chinquapin, La., hair salon where the easy-going and laid-back proprietress and her gawky assistant serve four regular customers — all with sharp tongues and soft hearts. That’s the focal point of the Plaza Theatre Co.’s production of “Steel Magnolias,” playing through July 19 at the Plaza Theatre in Cleburne.

You are probably familiar with the 1989 movie by the same name and its all-star cast of Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Sally Field, Julia Roberts and Daryl Hannah.

This is better because the only set, the interior of the beauty parlor cleverly designed by JaceSon Barrus, makes each member of the audience feel like he or she should be the next customer in Plaza’s intimate 160-seat theater-in-the-round.

It’s not just the set, not just the funny lines and roller coaster of emotions that has you choking back tears one second then laughing so hard you cry.

It’s the actors. You can immediately identify someone in real life that you know is just like one of them.

The only men in the play are the ones created in your imagination by the dialogue. This is ensemble acting at its best, and the ladies pull it off with precision timing.

Truvy — played by Granbury Theatre Company veteran Angela Burkey and looking just like a hairdresser should — competes for business with the nearby Kut and Kurl and Beauty Box. But business is so good she hires an assistant, Annelle, played by Plaza rookie Brianna Knapp.

There are lots of laughs as timid and awkward Annelle is spooked by distant gunfire and realizes she has been duped by her husband. Later, she finds religion, has a personalty transplant and attempts to convert everyone in sight. But instead of her new-found religion being too sugary, Knapp plays it just right and turns out to be a sweetheart, just like the rest.

The maturing of Annelle is one of three sub-plots. The others are the adventures of Clairee, widow of the former mayor who buys the local radio station, and Ouiser, a cranky, twice-married, overalls-wearing curmudgeon who finds happiness when she begins dating again.

The fast-talking, quick-witted Clairee — “The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize” — is played by longtime Carnegie Players actress and director Kate Hicks, whose considerable skills make it look easy.

That Hicks has joined Carnegie veterans Hillard Cochran, Dick Helmcamp, Shannon Loose and Andrew Guzman in making the jump back and forth between Cleburne theatre companies can only mean good things for the future of live theater in Johnson County.

Shauna Lewis is Ouiser, the same role she played when PTC first presented “Steel Magnolias” in 2010. She sounds and looks like she just arrived from the Louisiana backwoods.

The main story line centers around well-to-do M’Lynn, played by Trich Zaitoon, and her daughter, Shelby, played by Alvarado Junior High drama director Kristi Mills, who was last seen on the PTC stage in January in “Cash on Delivery.”

The play takes place over a two-year period, with the first of its four scenes taking place on Shelby’s wedding day. The silliness takes a serious turn when it’s surprisingly and dramatically revealed that Shelby is a diabetic who has been advised by her doctor not to have children.

Since each scene takes place months following the last, the dialogue between the ladies — just like the ubiquitous phone call in daytime soap operas — catches us up on what has happened in the intervening months.

IMG_8247The drama ensues when the headstrong Shelby announces she is pregnant and is going to have the baby regardless of what the doctors say.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know the outcome. If you notice the tissue boxes positioned throughout the theater for the audience to use, you can figure it out for yourself.

Zaitoon, who debuted on the PTC stage in its first production of “Steel Magnolias,” and  has been in about a half dozen PTC productions — most recently “Enchanted April,” delivers an outstanding monologue that has everyone reaching for the tissue boxes.

Just as she explodes with anger and wants to vent by hitting someone, the group offers up Ouiser as a sacrifice in one of the play’s funniest scenes that personifies the emotional ups and downs of this terrific night at the theater.

Perhaps it’s best that this is a woman-only performance, so the men in the audience can see how these “steel magnolias” use humor, mutual respect and love to handle the trivial and the worst of situations.

Directed by Taffy Geisel, with stage management by Cessany Ford,, costume design by Stacey Blanton, light design and sound design by G. Aaron Siler, this is a good one. There’s no swearing, no sexual innuendo. There are plenty of laughs and, yes, a few tears.

“Steel Magnolias” — written by Robert Harling and originally produced by the W.P.A. Theater in New York in 1987 — plays at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Saturdays, through July 19 at the Plaza Theatre, 111 S. Main St. in Cleburne.

Casting Announcement: SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL at Plaza Theatre Company


Plaza Theatre Company is pleased to announce the official Cast List for its upcoming production of SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL. The show will commence rehearsals this evening in preparation for opening on July 25th. The show will then play thru August 9th on Thursday, Friday and Saturday eves at 7:30 with Saturday matinees on July 26th, August 2nd and August 9th at 12 noon and 3pm. SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL is under the direction of Tina Barrus with musical direction by Tabitha Barrus, choreography by Kelly Nickell and stage management by Monica Glenn. The official Cast List is below:

Cat in the Hat Zachary Willis
Horton Brian Lawson
Jojo (doubled) Henry Cawood
Jojo (doubled) Stephen Newton
Gertrude Molly Morgan
Mayzie Jessica Taylor
Bird Girl 1 Tabitha Barrus
Bird Girl 2 Rachel Browning
Bird Girl 3 Rachel Larsen
Wickersham 1 David Midkiff
Wickersham 2 Benjamin Midkiff
Wickersham 3 Josh Cummins
Sour Kangaroo Caroline Rivera
Sour Kangaroo Baby (doubled) Julie Hall
Sour Kangaroo Baby (doubled) Miranda Barrus
Mr. Mayor JaceSon Barrus
Mrs. Mayor Emily Warwick
Gen. Schmitz David Goza
Vlad Vladikoff Jonathan Tovar
Yertle the Turtle Parker Barrus
Jungle of Nool Ensemble Hannah Midkiff
Eden Barrus
Emma Whitehorn
McKenna Meachem
McLaine Meachem
Anna Looney
Cameron Barrus
Levi King
Nolan Moralez
Cessany Ford
Who Ensemble Dora Hunt
Hannah Kashmar
Heather Aikman
Crystal Todd
Lena Moralez
Rachel Ybarra
Micah King
Madison Heaps
Ty Drury
Luke Cariaga
Ruby Cox
Samantha Bond
Allison Bond
Ashlyn Mullins
I.J. Meachem
Jonah Barrus
Kendall Parades
Elephant Bird Emerson Drury
Scarlet Sikora