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Forever Plaid

a Musical
by Stuart Ross

COMPANY : Kudzu Playhouse [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Kudzu Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 3711

SHOWING : April 23, 2010 - May 23, 2010



One of the most popular and successful musicals in recent memory, this deliciously goofy revue centers on four young, eager male singers killed in a car crash in the 1950s on the way to their first big concert, and now miraculously revived for the posthumous chance to fulfill their dreams and perform the show that never was.

Director Wally Hinds
Choreographer Becky Binion
Bass Jeff Boyce
Musical Director/Pianist Donnie Papenbrock
Smudge Brian Bascle
Jinx Andy Danh
Sparky Jason Meinhardt
Frankie Matthew Thornton
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Not Blad At All
by playgoer
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Kudzu Playhouse's "Forever Plaid" showcases four voices that blend together beautifully. The flimsy story serves as a backdrop for the intermissionless songfest of 50's tunes, most sung in close harmony. When all four voices are raised in song together, the effect is delightful. Solid accompaniment is offered by Don Papenbrock on the piano and Jeff Boyce on the bass.

Solos and featured spots aren't always as effective. Andy Danh, as Jinx, has a glorious tenor/falsetto that always sounds terrific. Brian Bascle, as Smudge, balances the vocal range with a strong, true bass/baritone, defective only in his bottom-most note, played here for comic effect. The middle voices of Jason Meinhardt (Sparky) and Matt Thornton (Frankie) sound great in harmony, but show some strain or sourness in their featured spots.

The set, by Wally Hinds with construction help from David Shelton, is disappointing. Navy blue walls are trimmed with a couple of strings of lights and plaid panels. An arched alcove at the back hosts the musicians. Other than that, the set consists of navy blue footlockers, metal barstools, and microphones. The props used are more effective than the set, ranging from microphone-sized plumber's helpers to a collection of funny accessiories used in the comedic highlight of the show, a tribute to Ed Sullivan. Lighting works, but isn't as obviously misfocused in one section as it is supposed to be, when Sparky attempts to find the spotlight. Costumes are tuxes throughout, so how could those go wrong?

The show is highly choreographed by Becky Binion. The choreography is most effective when it contains intentional missteps, which add to the fun. The missteps aren't particularly well assigned to the characters the actors are playing, though. Brian Bascle's Smudge plays a pretty together guy, but he is given most of the missteps. Andy Danh's Jinx is supposed to be the reticent one, but his acting shines only occasionally in songs when he takes on a confident air. Matt Thornton's Frankie displays the most sparkle, while Jason Meinhardt outshines the others in audience interaction.

"Forever Plaid" is a crowd-pleaser, especially to those who grew up in the era of the featured songs (late 50's to 1964). A Beatles tune, done in doo-wop style, is the only tribute paid to more modern sounds of popular music. Consequently, each performance is an exercise in nostalgia. The cast puts it across nicely, although there seems to be at least a decade difference in age between the left and right halves of the quartet, when they are all supposed to have been high school buddies not too many years ago. Given the fantastical premise of the show, that doesn't really prove a problem. It's a fun, great-sounding show! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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