by Russell W. Kacer
During the day, she sits quietly among the quaint small-town merchant shops on Monterey Square, adorned with the dancing shadows of mature Texas Pecan trees that surround the beautifully restored Wharton County Courthouse. At night, the sound of humming neon lights are heard as the breakers are flipped from within a dark light booth, and the glow out on the street becomes a beacon for entertainment to all of Wharton and surrounding counties. She is the Plaza Theatre.
The Plaza is located on Monterey Square, the original downtown square in Wharton, Texas. Although it is based in Wharton County, the Plaza’s central location and excellent accessibility helps attract audiences and performers from throughout the region, including the nearby counties of Victoria, Fort Bend, Matagorda, Colorado, Brazoria, and Jackson.
The Community Theatre of Wharton, a 501(C)3 non-profit organization, now renamed the Plaza Theatre, Inc., acquired the abandoned and rundown Plaza Theatre building in the early ’90s. By 1995 the first floor was restored as a venue for live performances. It now is responsible for producing a regular season of plays, musicals, and concerts each year, as well as an array of special events.
The recently announced 2016-2017 Season is sure to please all audiences. In October the season kicks off with the hilarious murder-mystery production of Knock ‘Em Dead and continues in February 2016 with the side-splitting farce, Noises Off. April brings a more serious tone with the Arthur Miller drama, All My Sons. The Litefooter Youth Workshop Production of Alice in Wonderland, Jr. will be held in June, followed by the big August musical that will have you dancing in the aisles – Footloose.
Past Plaza patrons are already purchasing tickets for the returning production of Greater Tuna. The same cast that has left audience members literally laughing out loud will return to kick off the holiday season in late November and early December.
The Plaza recently launched its annual membership drive to allow area residents and businesses to support its efforts to bring the arts to the region through the purchase of season tickets. Debbie Cenko, Plaza Theatre Board Treasurer, comments, “What many people don’t realize is that memberships and season ticket purchases make up over one-third of our annual operating budget at the Plaza.” The success of this year’s membership drive is especially crucial because of upcoming and much needed improvements to lighting and sound systems. It also supports the ongoing improvements to our historical building.
“Membership fees not only help underwrite the cost of the productions, but also aid us with the heating, cooling, and other operating expenses of one of the region’s architectural jewels,” adds President Henri-Ann Nortman. “With your generous support, we continuously strive to improve the Plaza Theatre and its programs.”
For more information about the Plaza Theatre, including on how to join, visit www.whartonplazatheatre.org or call 979-282-2226.