Harbor Playhouse Presents
Plaza Suite through May 23
by Ruth Gnirk
“Audience members are going to LOVE taking a trip back to the 1960’s with Neil Simons’ classic comedy, PLAZA SUITE! Three acts, two casts, and one luxury hotel room,” said Dr. Alexandra Shaw, the volunteer director of the production.
“After a year of quarantine, come see what these hotel room walls would say if they could talk! Enjoy the laughs and shenanigans just as the actors and myself already do!”
Dr. Shaw has instituted several changes, to ensure everyone’s safety. Instead of having understudies for the main roles, Dr. Shaw double–cast the entire play so there would always be another actor or actress who could easily step into each role, in the event that a cast member may be out of commission. Cast members, teamed up as Group A or Group B,will be alternating performances so that each team member has equal stage time.
“We all seriously missed one another, and absolutely can’t wait to get this non-profit organization back up and running, and putting people in our seats,” reflected Marcus Lozano, Plaza Suite, Act One cast member.
“We are ALL attempting to find normalcy again, whatever that may be, and happiness.”
Lozano, who owns Feathered Friends & Co., shared that he enjoys being part of a team comprised of members from the community that work regular jobs and then come together in the evenings to practice and build, bringing not only entertainment, but happiness to the community.
Chris Salinas, who plays a character in Act Two of Plaza Suite, said there were many benefits to being in this first indoor, post-covid production, including working under the direction of the talented and energetic Dr. Shaw.
“She’s been amazing throughout, letting us find and define our characters and has been very empathetic to the fact that we are all experiencing the same thing – doing a show in the middle of a pandemic is a risk,” he said.
Salinas shared that preparation for this production was rewarding but different, because of continuing covid precautions. In the past, the cast went through the entire process together. Now, actors did a lot of their work with a sole partner. Salinas said it felt more isolated, but when the two teams got together and he practiced with his alternate’s partner, it was more “normal.” He shared that the cast has all had things to learn, and areas in which to grow, and Dr. Shaw has graciously “allowed those to happen, knowing it’s part of the process.”
“This is actually my second Harbor show,” recalled Salinas.
“My first got cut short because of Covid. I remember auditioning for a show years ago, but quit after the dance audition. I regret it because I love performing so much. In the case of Plaza Suite, I auditioned just to do it, honestly. I was hoping for any role. I just wanted to be a part of the process, after missing out for a year.”
When he was offered a role, Salinas reflected he was not entirely confident, but saw it as a personal barrier to break through.
“It’s my first drama/comedy in 5 years and I’m glad I’m getting to be around friends.”
Barbara Bebout plays a character in Plaza Suite’s third act. Bebout had enjoyed attending productions at Harbor Playhouse, and after retiring from a 30-year teaching career, she wanted to challenge herself.
“I had been in three musicals since retiring from the education realm, but then our production was canceled due to Covid,” Bebout said.
“Going through the pandemic showed me that theatre was really important to me, and I needed it! It provided that emotional connection with others that COVID has stripped from me. When I saw an opportunity to audition I was elated! I didn’t care what it was, I just wanted to perform! Even though I had not ever performed in ‘straight’ play (a play without music) I decided to give it a shot. The rest is history! I was cast, and now I have another great experience to share with my family here at Harbor Playhouse.”
Josh Salinas plays the other main character in the third act of Plaza Suite.
“This is the first straight play that I have done in over 20 years,” Salinas said.
“I have done skits and musicals, whether it be at Harbor or at church, but nothing like this since probably 1999. Alexandra let me know about the auditions coming up, and I researched the play and thought I would love to play the part of Roy. It looked like a lot of fun! I am the father of 4 girls, so I can relate to this story so much.”
As for his motivation, the actor and camp director’s main goal is to do his best to bring joy in the world.
“This world can sure use it right now! Being able to be on stage, and put smiles on faces, is a really great feeling,” Salinas said.
Matthew Robles has roles in Acts One and Three. He has been in several other Harbor Playhouse productions, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor DREAMCOAT.
“I also love coming to the theatre to support everyone that has the passion to get on stage and show the magic of live theatre,” said. He shared his inspiration in auditioning for Plaza Suite.
“In my whole live theatre career, I’ve done nothing but musicals. Going into a straight play, with no music and no choreography, makes me excited to see how I portray my character on stage. It makes you a better performer, and helps you with working on your character instincts and facial expressions that the crowd can then pick up and feed off of.”
Support local art. Promote and celebrate local artists! Honor the legacy of Harbor Playhouse while you enjoy the amazing local talent of the cast and crew of Plaza Suite!
Plaza Suite, which opened Friday April 30, will be performed at Harbor Playhouse every weekend through May 23rd. As always, adults can look forward to enjoying a signature cocktail created for this production. Seating will only be at 50% capacity for this first show to hit the Playhouse since the pandemic, and tickets can be secured by calling the box office at 361.888.SHOW.