BWW Feature: FOREVER PLAID AND PLAID TIDINGS at Swift Creek Mill Theatre And Virginia Rep At Hanover Tavern
I had no expectations when I went to review a show called "Forever Plaid" in 1994 at Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, CT. It was a weird time for me; I was getting ready to move with my kids to Madrid, Spain, where my husband was already working on an assignment that would last two years. I had a sitter for the kids, and I drove myself through the summer evening from Stamford to Westport, about 20 miles east along I-95.
But that night I had one of the most fun, most joyful experiences of my reviewing career. This show featured the music of my earliest memory--the songs my mom played on her AM car radio, that my dad played on his hi-fi. We had all the albums by the Hi-Los, I think, and Perry Como was a huge star when I was a little kid.
This revue by Stuart Ross first ran in New York in 1987, later undergoing some changes and having an "official" Off-Broadway run starting in 1989. It's an appreciation of the close-harmony male groups of the late 50s and early 60s in the moment just before the British Invasion took over the airwaves and record stores.
And Ross made it warm and funny in a way that has never stopped working on me. I tried to get my family to a performance, but we had years of missing it in places where it was running--I remember being in Estes Park, CO a week before it was to open there.
Fortunately, Richmond is a welcoming home for this show. Both Swift Creek and Virginia Rep at Hanover Tavern have done it during my time here, and I always love it. I didn't even know about the Christmas version--"Plaid Tidings"--until they did it at Swift Creek. I've never seen a cast I didn't love, and I've seen Brandon Becker, Brett Ambler, Durron Tyre and Andy Nagraj; Ian Page, Kirk Sharpenstein, Gordon Graham and Storm Burks; and Caleb Wade, Ian Page, Mitchell Ashe and PJ Llewellyn. There have been other Richmond productions that I wasn't here for, and probably some I couldn't drag out of my memory, but I have loved them all--the corny humor, the clever stage business, the sweet heart, and the beautiful tunes.