SHOWING : March 18, 2005 - April 17, 2005
[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]
Before there was the Backstreet Boys or N’Sync, there were the Plaids. Featuring such memorable tunes as “Three Coins in the Fountain,” Chain Gang,” “Rags to Riches,” and “Love is a Many Splendored Thing,” this is a musical tribute to those 1960’s “boy bands.”
[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]
Dig those plaids!|
Monday, April 18, 2005 ||
I got to see the final production of this show and the fab four did not disappoint. I did not see any geriatrics on the stage, but I'll let young Mr. Okeley see what he thinks about that 10 or 15 years down the line when someone calls him old! I noticed the age differences, but I honestly didn't care because it was so enjoyable. The plot is really secondary to the music anyway, so it was not important to me that all of these guys couldn't have gone to high school together. In any event, down to the business at hand. These guys sounded really great together for the most part, and there was some great little acting bits as well. The Ed Sullivan thing was hysterical! I agree with Okeley about the microphones and wished they had really used them. Jim Jarrell had some screaming moments, but I'll chock that up to the last show and a tired voice. For the most part he sang well and his character was well received by the audience. I agree with Okeley that Greg Williamson was serivecable in his role but I guess I was waiting for something more from his character. He sang beautifully, but a little softly at times. Shawn Hale was being, well, Shawn Hale. What can I say about that? He was great as himself! He sounded great and it was a great role for his last one here for the next six months (he got a job as a social host on a ccruise ship). We'll miss you Shawn! The real standout was Mat Sewell. Not only was he surprisingly singing bass (get down on those notes, baby!), but he had great dance moves and his character was hysterical. And I can't forget to mention the surprise performances of Courtney Loner and Robert Egizio, fab as usual. Linda Uzelac was also her usual wonderful self up there on the keys, and she did a geat job working with the guys to get a great sound. Kudos to you and Robert for a show well done! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW] |
| || We've talked about this before, but I'll reiterate by Okely Dokely|
| You went to the trouble of name-dropping me 3 times - I figure the least I could do is give you a comment. In my humble opinion, and it's nothing more than my humble opinion, if I'm doing Forever Plaid "10 or 15 years down the line" and I look my age, then I will be the first to say that I'm too old for that show. Once again, I'm not knocking older people, I just think sometimes this show gets cast a little older than it should be, and I stand by that sentiment. I recently didn't get a part because I'm too old for it, and that's cool with me. And I said I DIDN'T think they were Forever Geriatric. A couple of them were too old - but not that bad. I just came up with all those bogus song-titles which cracked me up, so I did my best to incorporate them into the review.|
| || The Age Thing by Girl|
| I’m feeling a bit frustrated that there has been so much misunderstanding over Okely’s statements regarding the age of the actors in this show. I always thought that it was a known fact of theater that roles are written to be played by people who are (or at least appear to be) of a certain age. I can understand how it may be a little depressing when an actor reaches a point where he or she realizes that they’ve reached a new set of roles, but that’s what happens. That’s not to say anything negative against people who are not in their twenties; it is just to say that they shouldn’t be playing characters that are in their twenties. Age-awkward casting does not guarantee a bad show; in fact, a show (such as this one), can be quite good despite it. However, in the best case scenario actor/character age discrepancy is at least noticeable; in the worst, it is distracting. Anyway, to get to my point, I do not believe that Okely saying that an individual is technically too old for a role should be equated to him insulting the individual an entire age group.|
| || yo yo yo by feather|
| hey my man okley. didn't you audition for sdp's plaid? sounds like one of your infamous grudges to me. yo yo yo.|
| || yo yo yo yourself by Okely Dokely|
| Yes, I did audition for this and was not cast. I was a little disappointed, if I'm being completely honest (the reason we all audition is because we want to get a part), but I moved on. It's funny that THIS is the instance I get called on, when you obviously need to know your facts better. Look back at my previous reviews and I can count on at least one hand the shows I've reviewed that I auditioned for but was not cast in, but that I've given positive, often glowing reviews to. If I'm being even more completely honest and candid, as good a friend as Shawn is and as much as I'd love to work with him again, the two of us could not have been in the same production of Forever Plaid together. I think the reason I went through this show with such a fine-toothed comb is because it's one of my all-time favorites. My 4th favorite musical, to be exact. I do show biases in my reviews. I tend to go easy on friends (though lately I've tried not to), and it's obvious when a show is one of my favorites because I become picky as hell in those reviews, like Guys and Dolls, LSOH, and what happened with this Plaid. I stand by my rating and everything I've said in it, and none of it was done with a grudgemental attitude. I certainly have no hard feelings toward any parties - sometimes you get cast, sometimes you don't. It's just business, nothing personal. I don't want to clog up theaterreview any more than I feel I should about this subject, so you can feel free to e-mail me and we'll discuss this further if you want. Though I doubt you will. Unlike certain people, I have nothing to hide.|
| || by JasonMeinhardt|
| Here we go, again! I have to agree with Okely, but based on the fact that when I did the show recently, I did some research and looked at other theaters around the country who have done it. A few of them had the Plaids that were OBVIOUSLY in their 40's or even 50's. The show does not make sense to be cast at that age! No offense to anyone's talent (certainly not Shawn's-who I think is one of the most talented actors in Atlanta), but you have to look at the WRITTEN time line that Stuart Ross gives you in the show. The reason I wanted to do this show was because I KNEW that eventually, I'd be too old to do it. We all know, as actors, that our physical look sometimes will keep us from playing roles. I, personally, don't want to see Judi Dench playing Juliet. Just doesn't work. :) |
| || Sheesh! by cathead67|
| I understood what Okely was trying to say and was just trying to give him a hard time, knowing he is a young-un. I still got to play his wife and the girlfriend of another young-un in Titanic, though, even though I'm an old chick! ; )|
| || Cat.... by JasonMeinhardt|
| Giving ya a hard time too. I don't see you at all, so have to do it on here. Just agreeing with Okely's statement. Mainly to feather, of course. |
| || Interesting... by Jerrica|
| I just don't see that "Plaid" has an "age" to it. The guys are dead and there is no indication of how long they've been dead or how old they were when they crashed. So, why is age an issue? As long as the guys are all about the same age (or can play the same age), I really just don't see the problem. |
Also, just as a side note, Eric and I moved to Atlanta 2.5 years ago because we realized all the people playing our age in NY (mid-twenties) were in their 30's and 40's. The woman playing 19 year old Tzeitel in the revival of "Fiddler" on B'way is 43!!! That's just the way things are in the professional world. You have your occassional freak like Colleen Sexton, but for the most part, they will take experience and "seasoning" over "actual age".
And by the way, I think "Geriatric Plaid" would be hysterical. The thought that all these guys spent almost an entire lifetime singing in lounges in pursuit of a dream would be a riot! Haha!
| || some clarification by Okely Dokely|
| Actually, we do know how long they've been dead. We are told that they were killed in 1964 and FP takes place in the present day. I don't remember at the moment if 1964 is actually said, but we at least are given the month and day (February 9), and we know they were killed by teens on their way to see The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, which happened in '64. In this production, they implied that they aged while in their time warp, and I liked that. At the beginning of their built-in Act 2, Shawn came out and talked to Mike, the bass player, who Sparky has introduced to us as Uncle Chester. I thought it was pretty damn funny that "Uncle Chester" was quite obviously younger-looking than Sparky, so that was a good gag. [He's not really Sparky's uncle, anyway. His mother just had him around the house ever since his dad went to Korea, we are told.] |
Jerrica is correct in saying we don't know their ages when they died, but we can assume they were fairly young, due to the way they speak. i.e. their naivete about sex, love, and their inability to realize that they are making so many double entendres. I believe they should at least look the same age, which in Stage Door's production, they didn't. The reason I am of the opinion that they shouldn't be, or look, any older than 35 is for the reasons I mentioned above and in my review. These guys are pretty naive about a lot of stuff, and have a playful youthful air about them - it's the way they are written in the script. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the playwright did not intend for them to age in the 40-some years they were in the time warp, due to their opening dialogue ("we have voices again, and bodies, my aura's had it, etc."), since they are surprised to have bodies again.
On a side note, Stuart Ross and Weird Al should collaborate on Forever Geriatric. They could run with the Plaid thing. Maybe make this the next Nunsense, which spawned a million sequels.
| || I should really proofread my posts by Okely Dokely|
| I fear I may have contradicted myself or was a little unclear. When I said I liked what they did with the rationalization for SDP's Plaids being a little older than usual, I meant I liked the fact that they at least acknowledged this fact and tried to rationalize it with Shawn and Mike's patter in the Act 2 opening.|
| || no you shouldn't by Parrott65|
Actually, everyone should proofread their posts. However Mark, I think you've proven that your reviews are well written and worth reading. So, don't listen to such negativism.
| || short comment - I got my numbers wrong by Okely Dokely|
| A correction for the record: Forever Plaid is actually my 5th favorite musical, not my 4th. That title goes to LSOH. What made me think of this was when I recently mentioned Godspell as my 3rd favorite (which is true), and thought "wait a minute"...|
Enjoyable Evening of Nostalgia|
Sunday, April 17, 2005 ||
Stage Door's Forever Plaid was a fun adventure into the past through beautiful harmony! There's nothing like male voices blending to make one's heart melt. The quartet obviously had a blast doing this; their energy was contagious, and I for one enjoyed the entire production. It was doubly fun watching some of the audience members clapping and singing with the quartet. Involving members of the audience was a cool touch. Great job, Stage Door! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW] |
3.5 coins in the fountain|
|by Okely Dokely
Monday, April 11, 2005 ||
I once had a science teacher in high school who, when we were sitting on the bus about to leave our field trip at Six Flags, asked us if we had a good time. Nobody really responded, to which he said "hey, a bad day at Six Flags is better than a good day at school." I was reminded of this statement as I thought about my general impression of Stage Door Players' Forever Plaid. I imagine the weakest Robert Egizio-directed production one has seen is better than the best one has seen from most everyone else in town. Don't get me wrong, Robert is the best director I've never worked with, and I figured it out recently: if Scott Rousseau is the Steven Spielberg of Atlanta theatre, Mr. Egizio's Hollywood counterpart is Steven Soderbergh, another director I admire.|
I may just be picky because this is one of my very favorite shows, like productions of Guys and Dolls and Little Shop of Horrors, which I've previously raked across the coals on here. I had a good time when I saw this yesterday afternoon - it's always such a thrill to see this show. Things about this production, though, were a bit shaky and uneven. Before I proceed any further, there is a big glaring elephant in the room that I just HAVE to mention, just to get it out there. The "age" thing. It just didn't work for me, but I know Robert was trying to cast age-appropriately, didn't find what he wanted, so he had to go older. The main problem with having people over 35 in Forever Plaid is the fact that the Plaids make all kinds of unintentional sexual double-entendres, and are too naive to know what they're really saying. We're supposed to get the impression that they don't know much about sex. These guys, receding hairlines and all, look like they've been there and done that, many times over (and under), with several different combinations and genders. The characters: Jinx, Frankie, Sparky, and Smudge met in high school when they joined the AV club (the Projector Sector). Because of this, as hard as I tried, I couldn't get past the fact that two cast members are somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 years apart in age, and the young guy looks (not acts) a little out-of-place amidst the other 3. They sell it as well as can be expected, I guess. I thought for sure I'd come on here and call it Forever Geriatric, where they sing songs such as Three Canes in the Fountain, Mathilda, she take me social security check and run Venezuela, and We will have these Moments to Remember...if it weren't for the Alzheimer's - but it wasn't that bad. I was recently informed that they are actually YOUNGER than the current cast of the long-running production in Vegas.
Now to the performances: Jim Jarrell as Jinx had a beautiful, smooth, heavenly voice, and I was impressed at the notes he could sing without going to falsetto. My only issue with him was the acting choices he made during Cry. Jinx is the shyest Plaid, and Cry is the coming-out-of-the-shell number. Jarrell, however, sang the whole song too timid, and didn't really let loose in the last verse as much as I felt he should, and as much as I've seen from previous Jinxes. Greg Williamson as Frankie was serviceable in the role, and had a pleasant voice. He could have benefitted from some hair gel for more of that heart-throb look, and I also would have liked slower speed and less staring at the floor during his delivery of the final monologue, but he looked the part and was likable. He did remind me, however, of Jeffrey Bigger's performace in Art at Centerstage North and Jeff McKerley's performance in Richard II at the Shakespeare Tavern. Enough said about that. As Sparky, my favorite character, Shawn Hale has been given a role where he gets to be Shawn Hale (in the good way). I've been a big fan of Mr. Hale ever since I saw him play Sparky 7 years ago, and there were funny bits that only he could have made funny. But he is "gettin' up there", so to speak. I predict either this will be his last production of Plaid, or he will have to move to Never-Neverland to continue to do this show. Mat Sewell connected to his role wonderfully. An unlikely choice for Smudge - being a tenor - but I enjoyed him.
I was warned there were some significant changes. Boy, were they right. A lot of it threw me - some of it worked, some didn't. The built-in intermission, with the changing up the order of the songs, was done very well. I was afraid it would be too awkward, but it wasn't in the least. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Robert doing the opening narration in person. The Plaids' handicaps were barely acknowledged at all, i.e. Frankie's asthma (no inhaler), Sparky's speech problems (no retainer that he had to take out), and Smudge's dyslexia. Even Jinx's nosebleeds were downplayed a little. They sounded fantastic, as could be expected when you have the luxury of having Linda. I heard a few incorrect notes being sung, but everything was in the right key at least. And yes, I caught that Scotland the Brave was done a half step lower, but with so many casts starting off in the key of A and ending up in A flat by the end, it was probably just as well that they did that. The mics not working for real was an issue for me. They were just props, which bothered me. I believe a big part of the Plaid experience should be hearing those beautiful harmonies through speakers, even if it's a small theater and you really don't need it. It's always good to have it turned up just enough so the blend washes all across the house, with just a smidge of reverb. And the choreography was such that sometimes the guys didn't at least act like they were really on, and were several feet away from the mics. During the last verse of Cry, Jinx had his cupped in his hands so low, almost to his crotch. Plus, them standing behind these things obstructed the sound just a little. Humorously enough, I could hear them the loudest on Scotland the Brave and Crazy 'Bout Ya Baby - the two "un-miked" songs. I'd rather the mics had not been there at all if the production team wasn't going to have them work, personally. I believe the production at Aurora in '98 was completely mic-less, and plus, there's only one line I remember in the script that references the mics that could have easily been taken out.
What I've always taken with me when I see this show is the fact that the characters were so real. Every time I've seen this, up until now, I've gone home feeling like I just made 4 new friends. I can't quite put my finger on it, but this time around, I always felt at arm's length from the characters. Perhaps it was the age, the lack of functioning microphones, the cast's constant hamming [when in doubt, you should underplay everything in this show], or that the set was distracting because it was "too good." [A word about the set: Egizio has it take place at the Fusel-Lounge, which was where the Plaids were on their way to perform when they were killed in 1964. Cute idea, but FP takes place in the present day, so in order for it to logically work, either we would have had to be taken back in time, which isn't scripted to be the case, or the Fusel-Lounge still exists in 2005 as a theme restaurant. This is never made clear to us. Also, the screen in the center, with the constant-changing projections, was distracting when I was looking at it, but I didn't notice it near enough for the crew to have gone to the trouble of putting it up. I'd rather the Forever Plaid sign had been projected on it at all times, or there had been a physical Forever Plaid sign hung in its place.] Last fall, I viewed two productions of this on video, within a week of each other. One had great actors who really connected with each other, but they were average at the music part. The other was an Equity production with top-notch note-perfect singing, but they were way too goofy, as if all 4 Plaids were auditioning to be Sparky. I imagine that in most stagings of this show, something is great, and something suffers. In this, their musical blend was much more fabulous than their chemistry as characters.
Thanks for doing this show, Stage Door. In their closing weekend, I'm sure you'll have a great time if you go see this. In closing, without saying so much that I get Ryan Lucas in trouble, thanks to the licensing company for letting me "peruse" the script and vocal score a couple years back. I appreciated getting my hands on a "copy" of the score, which I sent back when I was done "looking it over." [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
| || Sorry Okely... by Jerrica|
| I must disagree with you completely! I thought Shawn Hale was brilliant in his role! He carried the show and by no means did I think he was "too old" to play the role. To me, Shawn doesn't really show his age on stage or off...I've always thought of him as being 10 years younger than he actually is. And I think that he'll be able to play this role plenty more times if he wants!|
| || We don't disagree "completely" by Okely Dokely|
| I thought he was brilliant in the role as well, and I tried to make that clear. Maybe it's just because I know how old he is in real life. Either way, he may have two or three more years (maximum) of Plaid in him, but I think his time he has remaining to do this show is numbered. Just my opinion.|
Monday, March 28, 2005 ||
Well, the community of Dunwoody can breathe easy... no homoerotic themes in this one!|
Forever Plaid has never been one of those shows where I said, "Yes! I can't wait to see that done!" But, knowing some of the voices in the show (and me being kinda partial to the bass player, Mike), some friends and I went to see the show Saturday night.
First off, the most important element of the show is believing that these guys were a real singing group. The cast sounded really good - blending very well. The harmonies of this music are not easy, and each singer needs to be secure with their part enough to be able to blend with the other 3 voices - and these guys did a great job. The comic timing is also important. There were some really funny laugh out loud moments to be had in the show. The book of the show isn't too challenging - it serves merely as a vehicle to get from one song to the other but the guys looked like they were having a fun time.
Jim Jarrel makes the character of Jinx a shy, bumbling guy, with such a smooth voice that you wonder what he needs to be shy about. Greg Williamson also gets some opportunities to show off his lovely singing voice as well. Shawn Hale is hysterical as the hyperactive Sparky, and Mat Sewell shocked me with the richness of his bass voice in "Sixteen Tons". Here I was, thinking he was a tenor this whole time!!
The set, as always was amazing. And the lighting, again, great.
My only complaint is so very minor that I almost hesitate to say it, but the one thing I didn't like was that the program lists the songs not in the order of the show, but in alphabetical order. We were sitting there at the end of the night trying to figure out what songs we liked the best, but weren't sure what their titles were. As I said, though, minor in the grand scheme. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
| || Uh oh..... by JasonMeinhardt|
| Kristie, partial to the bass player? Does that mean there is some biasness? I thought that was a "no no" on this site. ;) I guess that's just MY experience. I hope I can catch this show. After just finishing it a few months ago, I would love to see another take on it. Informative review. :) Thanks.|
| || here's what I'm gonna do by Okely Dokely|
| When I see it this Sunday, I'm purposely going to give it a bad review because I have a personal grudge against the bass player. J/K|
I can't wait to see their take on one of my all-time favorite shows.
| || But you noticed... by KristieKrabe|
| That I purposely didn't say anything about how amazing the bass playing was in this show! I mean, wow... I could watch that guy play all night long! I knew that such a statement would come off as biased and I would be attacked for "promoting the show for it's bass playing" so, I didn't mention him. But man!! If you go to see this show for one reason, and one reason only - it's for the bassist.|
[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]
by David Shire (music), Richard Maltby, Jr. (lyrics)