BWW Review: FOREVER PLAID at Stagecrafters is the Charming, Feel-Good Musical We All Need Right Now
Until February 9th, Stagecrafters is putting on an incredible production of a beloved musical, Forever Plaid.
Originally produced Off Broadway in 1989, Forever Plaid is a 90-minute show within a show about a 1950s "guy group" called "The Plaids." When the show begins, The Plaids have just been killed by a bus of schoolgirls going to see the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, and so this show is all about them putting on that one amazing show they never got to perform in life. While this plot sounds a bit morbid, keep in mind that Forever Plaid is anything but.
Directed by Debbie Landis-Sigler, Forever Plaid at Stagecrafters was wonderfully simple. After witnessing the feat that was Ragtime back in September, it was refreshing to see a show that wasn't quite so grand. Instead of a few dozen actors, there were only four, and instead of large sets, the set was (for the most part) static. That said, all throughout Forever Plaid you'll be able to take time to appreciate the modest (yet also complex) choreography, magnificent (and meaningful) lighting design, flawless harmonies, and charming comedy.
I went into Forever Plaid knowing next to nothing about that era of music, and I left humming along to all the new tunes I was introduced to. My favorites included, but weren't limited to: "Crazy 'Bout Ya Baby," "Cry," "Sixteen Tons / Chain Gang," "Catch a Falling Star," and "Matilda." As I write this review, the original off-Broadway cast album is playing in the background.
One personal favorite song of mine was "Matilda," which heavily involved the audience in a "We sing [this], you sing [that]" fashion. It was an entertaining way to include the audience, and you also couldn't help but smile as you sang this along with the rest of the audience: "Matilda / She take me money and run / Venezuela." I have a soft spot for shows that have interactive portions with the audience, and so this was yet another moment of Forever Plaid at Stagecrafters that I will always remember.
Another favorite moment was the song, "Crazy 'Bout Ya' Baby." In addition to being a phenomenal song on its own, it took a lot of creativity to choreograph it with long plungers. (You read that right.) Not to be cliché, but this is something you need to see in person to believe.
Not only was there a complete harmony between the four actors (Brad Ellison as Francis, Joseph Quednau as Jinx, Jose Reyes as Sparky, and Patrick Wehner as Smudge), but the harmonies they sung between the four of them was enough to make you swoon. Their voices are perfect on their own, but combined, they are unstoppable. In fact, each of their performances are so powerful that it's hard to single out one or two that particularly stand out from the others.
When you mix together the sheer talent of the performers, their chemistry, and the unique source material, Forever Plaid is a theatre experience you won't ever forget. As such, Forever Plaid truly is the feel-good musical we all need right now.
Forever Plaid runs on Stagecrafters' Baldwin Theatre in Royal Oak until February 9th. For more information and tickets to the show, visit www.stagecrafters.org.