Tuesday, September 16, 2014




Wharton Plaza Theatre

By BY CAMILLE M. DOTY - CDOTY@VICAD.COM
Sept. 1, 2011 at 4:01 a.m.


Wharton Plaza Theatre 2011- 2012 Season

Presented by: Paul and Mary Jane Engeling

A mystery by: John Randall

Produced: In arrangement with Samuel French

Directed by: Esther Bayazitoglu

Performances: Oct. 14-16, 21-23

at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 2:30 p.m. Sundays

General Admission: $10; seniors, students, group of 10 or more - $8.

Auditions: 6 p.m. Aug. 28 and 30

Music and lyrics by: William Finn

Book by: Rachel Sheinkin

Produced: In arrangement with Music Theatre International

Directed by: Janice McDonald

Performances: Feb.10-12, 17-19

7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays

General Admission - $15; seniors, students, group of 10 or more - $13.

Auditions: 6 p.m. Dec. 11 and 13

Directed by: Candyce Byrne

Performances: 7:30 p.m. March 30-31

General Admission - $10; seniors, students, groups of 10 or more - $8.

Auditions: 6 p.m. Feb. 26 and 28

A comedy by: Ken Ludwig

Produced: In arrangement with Samuel French

Directed by: Reagan Wrench

Performances: April 20-22, 27-29

7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays

General Admission - $10; seniors, students, group of 10 or more - $8.

Auditions: 6 p.m. Feb. 26 and 28

By: Roald Dahl

Music and lyrics by: Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley

Adapted by: Leslie Bricusse and Timothy A. McDonald

Based on the book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"

Produced: In arrangement with Music Theatre International

Directed by: Roshunda Jones

Performances: June 28-30 and July 1,

7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

General Admission - $10; seniors, students, group of 10 or more - $8.

Auditions and registration: 6 p.m. May 13

Book by: Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan

Music and lyrics by: Marc Shaiman

Lyrics by: Scott Wittman

Produced: In arrangement with Music Theatre International

Directed by: Darin Mielke

Performances: Aug. 3-5, 10-12, 17-19

7:30 p.m Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays

General Admission - $15; seniors, students, group of 10 or more - $13

Auditions: 6 p.m. May 20 and 22

Demographics

County population: 41,280

County Seat: Wharton

-Major city or cities: East Bernard, El Campo, Wharton

-History of the county's name: Named for brothers William H. Wharton who was orator and leader in the Texas Revolution and John A. Wharton who was a statesman, lawyer and soldier. He was also a member of the Texas Congress.

Square miles: 1,090 square miles land

Main highways: U.S. Highway 59, U.S. Highway 90 Alternate, state Highway 60, state Highway 71

County's biggest employer: Wharton school district with 400 employees

WHARTON - The Plaza Theatre holds different meaning to each generation.

Some get nostalgic because they remember this town's staple as a picture show and later a hotel.

At one point all they had was memories because a fire destroyed the building in the 1980s.

Hope was restored when the Community Theatre of Wharton acquired the abandoned building.

With a little patience and time, the historical landmark re-opened.

"The building itself is a throwback to the art-deco days," said Russell Kacer, vice president of communications for the Plaza Theatre.

The neon-lit marquee could catch anyone's eye on the outside. But the warmth and sense of family can capture anyone's heart.

This quaint theater nestled in downtown Wharton gives locals the opportunity to take center stage and fully engage in the arts.

The Plaza Theatre has six productions each year - two musicals, three plays, and a children's summer production. There are also a host of concerts and variety shows.

This close-knit art community calls themselves the Footeliters, affectionately after famous playwright Horton Foote.

Foote, a Wharton native, received Academy Awards for his adaptation of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and original screenplay, "Tender Mercies."

"The children look forward to the production every summer," said Kacer. He also said the theater exposes the children to arts and culture. And an added bonus is spending time with friends.

The children involved, won't answer to little thespians - they are proudly called the Litefooters.

The fine arts have taken a hit by the economy, and this local theater is no exception. But the group's drive and persistence has sustained them.

The Lower Colorado River Authority awarded then a $25,000 grant to weatherize the theater. Additionally, the Houston Galveston Arts Council gave them funds to rehab the marquee and street front.

Kacer said the plaza changes the perception of theater because of its casual atmosphere.

"Here, it's laid back and comfortable. You can experience arts and culture without being intimidated by it," he said.

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