Back to life in Plaid
Written by Stuart Ross
Directed and musical direction by Sandy Thorburn
Choreographed by Ramona Gilmour-Darling
Performed by Douglas John Alan (Price), Russell Tyson Clark, Ben Kunder, Sef Wood
Originally produced by Thousand Islands Playhouse, Gananoque
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia
May 18 to June 5, 2010
Entertain This Thought!
Review by Mary Alderson
A turquoise 50’s era Lincoln Continental carried the cast of Forever Plaid, each wearing a white tuxedo jacket, through the streets of Petrolia to kick off Victoria Playhouse’s 2010 season. They were escorted by bagpipe music, thanks to a plaid kilted piper.
It’s 1964 and four young men have formed a singing group, harmonizing at popular spots such as the airport bar, known as the “Fusal Lounge”. Sadly, before they make it big, all four are killed in a car crash. Then suddenly, it’s 46 years later, and they are surprised to find themselves back on earth and performing the big show they never gave.
Smudge (Ben Kunder), Sparky (Douglas John Alan ‘Price’), Jinx (Russell Tyson Clark) and Frankie (Sef Wood) along with Jim Hodgkinson as the pianist, timidly take the stage, but soon regain their confidence, performing before an appreciative audience. They confess to rehearsing in the plumbing supply warehouse, using plungers for mics.
The four have excellent voices from Kunder who supplies the low notes, through to Clark’s soaring tenor. The songs are late fifties, early sixties favourites such as Three Coins in the Fountain and Love is a Many Splendored Thing.
There’s salute to Perry Como when the four pay homage to the “golden cardigan”, and sing Catch a Falling Star. They also honour Caribbean music with Day-O, Kingston Market and Matilda. Another set includes Sixteen Tons and Chain Gang. They even acknowledge the Beatles who are becoming popular with a new sound, by singing She Loves You. But of course, they make it their own by singing “yessireee” instead of “yeah, yeah, yeah.”
The most laughs come during a special segment, where they perform the entire Ed Sullivan show including all the favourite acts in five minutes. There’s a juggler, flamenco dancer, trained seal, dogs jumping through hoops, ballet, opera, the famous spinning plates, Sr. Wences, the singing nun, Topo Gigio the mouse and more.
When the Jim, the accompanist, has to take his union break, Doug Price, a talented triple threat actor/singer/dancer gets to demonstrate his fourth threat, and takes over at the piano. They even invite audience participation, with the one song everyone knows how to play, Heart and Soul. Sef Wood supplies to vocals to this crowd pleaser.
The Plaids always wanted was new plaid jackets. When the jackets arrive, they are truly heaven-sent. It’s a relaxing evening of entertaining comedy featuring the smooth harmonies of the pre-rock pop era.
Forever Plaid continues with eight shows a week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until June 5. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 for tickets.
A member of the Canadian Theatre Critics Association, Mary Alderson reviews shows at area theatres and posts her reviews at www.entertainthisthought.com.