FRIDAY 5 (+1): Cumberland County Playhouse's FOREVER PLAID Debuts Tonight in Crossville
Cumberland County Playhouse invites you to take a sentimental journey to the 1950s with their production of Forever Plaid, opening tonight in the Adventure Theatre and running through May 24.
Forever Plaid is the fantastical and musical tale of The Plaids, a boy group from a bygone era who are granted an opportunity to return to earth to perform the concert planned before their untimely demise (thanks to a bus full of Catholic schoolgirls) and it's sure to be a treat for audiences, featuring a nostalgic slate of some of the best-loved songs of the era.
CCP artistic director Britt Hancock directs the cast of four, which includes Justin Burr, Paul Gary, Ross Griffin and Chris Hallowes, who found time this week during the hustle and bustle of tech week to respond to our queries and to tell us why they think you should come see their show in the latest installment of our Friday 5 (+1)...
Justin Burr (Smudge)
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? I think one of the first shows I ever saw was a college production of Mr. Poppers Penguins that my elementary school took a field trip to see. My first experience of a National Tour, which I saw shortly after that, was The Lion King, and I'll never forget it.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I love spending time with my castmates before a show!
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? When I was in eighth grade, it was opening night of our musical, and 45 minutes before curtain, the fire alarms went off in the school and we had to evacuate. Being outside for not more than two minutes, it started to torrential downpour, and we (of course) were all in full costume and makeup. After getting back into the school, we had about 15 minutes to pull ourselves together and dry our costumes as much as we could before the show began - definitely a "show must go on" moment I'll never forget.
What's your dream role? Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard is one of my dream roles!
Why should people come see Forever Plaid? Forever Plaid is just an absolute good time. Between the insane harmonies, lovable characters and songs, there is no possible way for you to leave this show without a smile on your face!
Paul Gary (Sparky)
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? When I was in sixth grade, my sister took me to her high school to see their production of Into the Woods. I went in knowing nothing about theatre and left not knowing much more, but feeling that I needed to tell stories for a living.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? This truly changes depending on the show, but hydration is always #1 on my list. If I'm hydrated, I'm good.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? Last summer, in a production of Hello, Dolly!, I fully ripped my pants backstage, right before an entrance. It wasn't a small rip, either; you could see EVERYTHING. So, I made my entrance, facing upstage as much as possible while still acting like a normal person, then exited as fast as I could, put on a second pair of pants over my first, and wore two pairs of pants for the rest of the show. Always thank your dressers, folks!
What's your dream role? Easily Pierre in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. Gorgeous music, period costumes and plenty of accordion.
Who's your theatrical crush? This honestly changes monthly, but right now, it's gotta be Ashley Park. She's just the greatest.
Why should people come see Forever Plaid? Why pass up a chance to hear tight barbershop harmonies sung by four dudes who are actually friends in real life? It'll put a smile on your face, a song in your heart, and a drive to love what you do in your soul.
Ross Griffin (Jinx)
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? Honestly, I don't remember the first show I ever saw, but the first show I was ever cast in was Oliver! I auditioned to be an ensemble orphan and ended up with the title role. I'm grateful to that director who gave me that first shot at the stage.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I meditate while I stretch, usually need a few minutes of quiet alone, and either mouthwash or pop a mint before "Places."
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? I did a production of Holiday Inn that was surely cursed. Every day seemed like a new re-block for one reason or another. I legit can't even pinpoint a specific moment or show - just the whole run. The cast was remarkably adaptable, though, and the show did indeed go on!
What's your dream role? My long-time dream role has always been Seymour in Little Shop, but nowadays, probably either Orpheus in Hadestown or Beetlejuice!
Why should people come see Forever Plaid? The show is beautifully endearing in its nostalgia. It hits all the cultural references of the 1950s, but it has also found a way to be a fresh story following the Plaids' journey to the afterlife. You just can't not like this show!
Chris Hallowes (Frankie)
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? My sophomore year of highschool. It was a production of the Elvis musical All Shook Up. I've been hooked ever since!
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I have a 60-second break to myself right before my first entrance. It helps calm my nerves and get my head into the game.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? In college my colleague and scene partner got very ill in the middle of a performance and could not finish the show. My fellow castmates and I had to come up with blocking and choreo on the spot for an over an hour to fill the whole of the missing actor. The audience didn't notice a thing!
What's your dream role? Jimmy - Bright Star.
Who's your theatrical crush? Vera-Ellen.
Why should people come see Forever Plaid? It's the perfect mix of humor, charm, and great music that has something for all ages! You don't want to miss this group of smooth singers!
About Forever Plaid Relive an era when doo-wop was king, big hairdos were in, cars had enormous fins, and the harmonizing bands of the 1950s were all the rage as Forever Plaid opens at Cumberland County Playhouse this Friday night, March 29, running through May 24.
Featured in the cast are Chris Hallowes (Holiday Inn) as Frankie, Playhouse newcomer Justin Burr as Smudge, Paul Gary (A Sanders Family Christmas) as Sparky and Ross Griffin (Barefoot in the Park) as Jinx. The Plaids get a chance to look back at their lives, and discover that they not only had wonderful lives, but that their lives were so magical and wonderful because of all the adventures the four friends shared together.
"I feel very fortunate to be able to bring this wonderful show back to the Playhouse stage," said artistic director Britt Hancock, who also directs. "After nearly 25 years, we have the opportunity to introduce this delightful musical to a whole new audience."
Considered one of the very best jukebox musicals, Stuart Ross' Forever Plaid is the wonderfully goofy and charming story of The Plaids, a clean-cut 1950s all-male singing group who return from the Great Beyond to perform the show they never got to when they were alive.
Audiences likely will be rolling in the aisles and tapping their toes as The Plaids are miraculously revived to perform the concert that "never was" in the nostalgic musical. The charming quartet of Hallowes, Burr, Gary and Griffin perform precision harmonies, squabble boyishly and execute their period-perfect choreography with precision. The Plaids perform some of the greatest hits of the 1950s: "Catch a Falling Star," "Three Coins in the Fountain," "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing," "Cry" and "Heart and Soul."
Forever Plaid plays in the Adventure Theater through May 24. Tickets are available at (931) 484-5000 or www.ccplayhouse.com.
Currently at The Playhouse: the side-splitting farce Noises Off on the Mainstage through April 18. Upcoming: Bright Star on the Mainstage, April 26 through June 6.