Winter Texans going home in late April missed one of the funniest, well-cast and sexiest plays ever performed at the University of Texas-Pan American.

Drama-lovers who missed its five performances didnít realize what a jewel they overlooked.

Plaza Suite by Neil Simon earned lively direction by Trey Mikolasky. Itís a shame this rapid-fire classic didnít run longer. All nine actors mastered the life-like script. This proved a rare university play where ALL the actors looked professional.

Natalie Sandoval, a youthful UTPA student, is conveying that sheís a middle-aged woman, trying to seduce her sluggish husband into spending the night at the hotel they stayed in as newlyweds 23 years earlier. She radiates nostalgia and love.

Hernan Cortez III, playing her churlish husband, proves he can play against type spectacularly. In real life he teaches, far from the ruthless businessman and bad husband he plays so well on-stage.

Billie Padilla, making her third main-stage production her first year at UTPA, steals scenes playing an old high school lover, now married with three kids. Her ex-boyfriend tries seduction at the hotel. Her dialogue, Neil Simon classics, sparkles.

Jonathan Torres plays to the hilt like a swordsman, dueling with his old lover as a seasoned Hollywood seducer. He changes tactics in deft comic style. He shares creating the funniest scene in Neil Simonís often-produced classic.

Edgar Ituarte deserves a Texas Oscar for ďbest anger in a comedy.Ē He roars about five minutes as a wronged father of the bride, who locks herself in a bathroom before the ceremony. Ituarteís role seems better than the filmís version.

Amanda Chapa dazzles playing the bride, lovely and happy as if nothing had happened. She emerges like a princess. She also played well the role of Jean McCormack in the second act. She attends STC and won this prized open audition.

Veronica L. Navarro saves the comedy from tragedy as the cool, sympathetic mother of the bride. She will be directing this summer for Pan American Summer Stock, so donít miss PASS. She has a great resume to start a masterís in New York.

Edwardo (Edy) Escamilla is an entering freshman who survived the huge casting call for a part. He played the hotel waiter that Neil Simon brought to life, and Edy probably worked for a classy Valley hotel to make it ring so true.

Joel A. Garza graduated from UT-Austin in 2007. He now directs public relations for the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg. An unpaid bellhop, like all the cast at Plaza Suite, he looks, acts and fills a great part.

An undercurrent of sadness made them dedicate this show to the memory of Albert Garza, a theatre teacher in the Edinburg School District and a mainstay of the UT Pan American theatre program.