Civic Theatre performs ‘Plaza Suite’

Hayley Gibson

Wacoans by day and stars of the stage by night — the members of the Waco Civic Theatre are gearing up for their season opener this weekend with a trilogy of one-act plays in Neil Simon’s comedy “Plaza Suite.”

The play, directed by Dave Verdery, will run from Friday through Sept. 16, and offers a variety of afternoon and evening performances. “Plaza Suite” will be the first one-act trilogy in the history of the theater.

Each act will feature different cast members, themes and times of the year, all using the same setting of Suite 719 in New York’s Plaza Hotel as the only constant throughout the scenes.

“It’s pretty intense to direct three acts, which is like directing three whole plays, with no common thread to tie the three together other than the setting,” said Verdery, who has been with the theater since 1998 and transitioned from acting to directing four years ago.

The three short plays will run as one performance as playwright Simon intended, with each lasting one scene, but all connecting together through the common set.

Actress Cathy Hawes plays the lead in the first play as a wife of 23 years who suspects that her husband is cheating on her. Hawes expects the audience to enjoy the contrasting moods of the trilogy.

“There is some humor and some sarcasm,” Hawes said. “Then it gets serious, but that’s what acting is.”

Also new to the history of the theater, there will be a performance on Sept. 13 for deaf and hard of hearing patrons. For that night only, the play will be translated entirely by American Sign Language interpreters.

“There’s not a lot of opportunities for people with hearing challenges to be entertained… so an ASL teacher here made the suggestion to do signing for the deaf community,” Verdery said.

“Plaza Suite” features provocative subjects that the cast believes the Waco community will really connect with and enjoy.

“It’s pretty well-rounded,” Verdery said. “If you have an appreciation for live theater, some laughter and some drama, you’ll enjoy it.”

Following Hawes’ performance of a potentially cheating husband, the second play will feature former high-school sweethearts reconnecting during a visit to Suite 719. The third play will feature a couple begging their daughter to come out of the bathroom and come down to her wedding.

Hawes hopes people will develop an appreciation for Waco talent after coming to see “Plaza Suite.”

“I hope people see that Waco has local talent and that we are just folks that live here and love acting. You can have a normal, regular life and still be in acting,” said Hawes, who is a pre-school assistant at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church by day and star by night.

Tickets for general admission are $13 for students and $15 dollars for adults, but opening night, which is preceded by a gala reception at 6:30 p.m.

The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. will have tickets priced at $15 for students and $20 for adults.

Specific dates and times can be found at and seats can be reserved at (254) 776-1591.