BWW Review: FOREVER PLAID an Escape to Harmonic Heaven at Theatre On The Bay
Transporting you to the 1950s with close-knit harmonies and pitch perfect renditions, FOREVER PLAID is a gentle jukebox musical perfect for some doo-wop nostalgia. Consisting of four members and giving off The Four Seasons feelings in some respects, this production has a loose storyline and is more focused on showing off the vocal and stage talents of the quartet; of which there is plenty.
The first act opens on the FOREVER PLAID boyband reaching the afterlife after an unfortunately timed bus accident. Taking the opportunity to perform one last time together, the ensemble floats between hits of the 50s and interjects with anecdotes of their time together; ending on a heartwarming note that lifts the show above "musical revue" status to more so "wholesome storytelling through song".
The lighthearted first act consists of songs such as Three Coins in the Fountain, No, Not Much and Perfidia. The second act starts equally lighthearted with a Caribbean Plaid medley complete with audience participation, and a 3 minute and 11 second recreated highlights reel of The Ed Sullivan Show (some references completely lost on me, but thoroughly enjoyed by wiser members of the audience). The pace of the production could perhaps use a bit of work, but that doesn't take away from its overall transcendental effect.
Danny Meaker as Frankie stands out as the leader of the gang and is responsible for reigning the group in. He's charming and has a definite stage presence, making him a young actor I hope to see more of on bigger stages. He brings good comedic timing to the show, as do his fellow actors, but a stand out for his comedy is baritone Tiaan Rautenbach. Rautenbach's cheeky interactions with his fellow plaiders and the audience nicely rounds out the charming feel of the foursome.
Equally entertaining was Musanete Sakupwanya as timid Jinx. He is an incredibly talented vocalist and swerved nicely into the classic Valli-esque tenor sound of the 60s in group numbers. Sakupwanya has also proven himself a versatile performer with FOREVER PLAID - having last seen him in the slightly more serious role of Nelson in a completely different genre with CALLING US HOME. Last but not least, smooth bass Smudge, played by Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri, comes into his own in the second half of the show and gives an entrancing solo.
The group completes their numbers with simple choreography that doesn't distract from the harmonic stylings at hand. The set surrounding the ensemble is minimalist, but true to the decade it's set in. Small props and minor costume changes add to the stripped-down show; whereas lighting is well-used throughout to be atmospheric and playful.
While perhaps not part of the age group FOREVER PLAID is catering to, that doesn't make the show any less enjoyable. I found the entire ambience of this production wholly engrossing - to the point where it felt like (granted it was a less than sold-out Tuesday night audience) it was just me and my partner in the audience.
In short, FOREVER PLAID is the 50s escapism you never knew you needed.
Photo credit: Supplied
FOREVER PLAID will be performed at Theatre On The Bay until 23 November. Tickets range from R150 to R350. Get your tickets from Computicket or by dialing the Theatre On The Bay box-office on (021) 438-3301.