Aaron Siler and JaceSon Barrus

Plaza Theatre Co. Director of Operations Aaron Siler, left, and Artistic Director JaceSon Barrus promise a night of thrills, romance and intrigue in Plaza’s upcoming production detailing the roller coaster courtship between two Italian teenagers.

 

 

In spite of family differences, two star-crossed lovers are destined to meet cute next month, fall head over heels and throw passion to the winds against all odds. Will these two crazy kid’s lives wind up happily ever after or heartbreak hotel?

To find out, book a ticket to this year’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “Romeo and Juliet.”

Performances run 8 p.m. June 7-8 at Winston Patrick McGregor Park, 1628 W. Henderson St. Vendors will be on hand though attendees are also welcome to bring their own food and beverages.

Advance tickets cost $10 for adults, $5 for children or $15 for adults and $5 for children at the gate. For information, visit cleburneshakes.org or call 817-202-0600.

Shakespeare in the Park, a coproduction between Plaza Theatre Co. and the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce, enters its fifth season this year.

“We started with a tragedy our first year, ‘Hamlet,’” Plaza Artistic Director JaceSon Barrus said of this year’s choice of play. “For the past three years we’ve done comedies and thought it was time to stage another tragedy. Why not, for our fifth year, do Shakespeare’s best-known tragedy? So ‘Romeo and Juliet’ it is.”

But hold on, Plaza Director of Operations Aaron Siler chimed in.

“The great thing about ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is that it truly is a comedy within a tragedy,” Siler said. “It has a wedding and a lot of fun things that happen in the beginning. But then it’s also a show where, well, I think most people know how things end up. But out of all of Shakespeare’s plays I think this might be his most famous, which makes it an exciting production to tackle. 

“And, I have to add, we have a stellar cast lined up for this show. I mean every single person involved is fantastic.”

Hard to believe, Barrus said, that it’s been five years already and it all came about courtesy Barrus’  opportunity perchance to dream one night.

“In reality, that previous night I dreamed of doing ‘Hamlet’ and went to Aaron the next morning and asked if he thought we should do the play,” Barrus said. “He didn’t tell me I was too crazy and so we went to the chamber and they were receptive to the idea and have been amazing ever since.

“We at Plaza and the chamber partnered with each other because we realized we both had the intent of creating an outdoor event for the community to kind of kick off the summer.”

Staging the productions has proved a fresh challenge to Plaza actors and staff.

“We do 10 plus shows on our main stage every year at Plaza Dudley Hall,” Barrus said. “We do all our junior theater productions and Plaza Academy and love all that. But, with Shakespeare, we wanted to do something different and hopefully unique. 

“We foresaw Shakespeare outdoors going away in other areas as it did in Fort Worth several years ago and thought it would be fun to undertake our own unique take on that concept.”

The past four seasons provided big fun and entertainment for Plaza folk and area residents alike,” Siler said, as he predicted more of the same this year.

“It’s nice to have an event outdoors,” Siler said. “People show up with their blankets, lawn chairs, food, coolers of beverages and visit with each other. Then we all watch the sunset and the lights go up and we all enjoy the show.”

Such an involved productions require a little help from their friends in addition to the chamber, Barrus said.

“We have an awesome sponsor in Bates etc. Travel,” Barrus said. “June Bates stood behind us from the very beginning and we couldn’t have made it this far without her help.”

Happy to help, Bates said.

“I support local arts and that’s why I made a 5-year commitment to sponsor and help them get up and running and established,” Bates said. “It’s a great time and great event and they’ve put on really good shows each of their first four years. 

“Even if you’re not that interested in or don’t understand Shakespeare it’s still just a fabulous time to go out there with your family, your friends. The whole overall experience of the night is just really cool.”

Plaza otherwise

In addition to the Bard, Plaza has events aplenty on tap through summer and beyond.

Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Aida” runs through June 15 at Plaza Theatre at Dudley Hall, 305 S. Anglin St.

“Following that up will be “Always...Patsy Cline,” which starts June 21,” Barrus said. “Then over at Main Street we’ll be doing our summer series with our youth theater. We’ll have “The Jungle Book,” our junior show in July and “Footloose,” our teen camp program toward the end of July.

The King penciled in plays to pay a Plaza visit at 7:30 p.m. July 19.

“[Elvis Presley tribute performer] Kraig Parker will play for us that night,” Barrus said. “Last time we had him at our Main Street Theatre. That show was great but it was his stripped down performance. This time he’s bringing his entire band, which is like a 15-piece orchestra. So that’s going to really be something and we’re going to have that for one night only at the Cleburne Conference Center.”

For information on those and other Plaza events, visit plaza-theatre.com.

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