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Theatre Review: Forever Plaid Lights Up the Stage

Anne Evans Anne Evans Theatre Review: Forever Plaid Lights Up the StageCody Shope (Sparky), William Macke (Jinx), Zachary Pytel (Frankie) and Ben Hartwig (Smudge) star in Forever Plaid, performing through November 9, 2014. Photo by CATCO.
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CATCO opened Forever Plaid last night to a filled house in the intimate Studio Three at the Riffe Center. The fast paced show features four young men who were killed in a car accident on their way to their first big performance. Don’t worry, it’s not a show about a gruesome death. Instead, the four guys come back in white tuxedos to have the chance to perform their concert. An onstage pianist (Quinton Jones) and upright bassist (Andrew Festa) complete the ensemble.

The group is obviously excited about the crooning love songs of the 1950s they are performing. It reminded me of The Marvelous Wonderettes that Matt Clemens directed for Short North Stage a couple of years ago – a small stage filled with actors having a great time. He makes the same happen here. Forever Plaid is another joy to watch and the audience really enjoyed themselves.

Forever Plaid has some campy moments. The actors work to portray emotions a certain way, and some of the false starts for the songs feel deliberate, but it does not distract from the show.

Cody Shope (Sparky) finds his place as the charismatic leader of the quartet, and has a lot of fun on stage.  Ben Hartwig anchors the group as the practical and deep voiced Smudge.

Zachary Pytel keeps the group together as the refined Frankie. Watching William Macke as Jinx gain confidence as the show goes on is a highlight of the show. During a blues number he starts the song off unsure of the lines and by the end is belting out the tune and taking over the stage. It’s great.

The guys perform eighteen songs over two hours with a fifteen minute intermission. It’s filled with touching moments, interaction with the audience, great songs, and lots of fun. The second the deep bass notes drop and the blue lights shine, you drift away to another time.

Forever Plaid was written by Stuart Ross with musical arrangements by James Raitt. Matt Clemens directed the CATCO production. The show has already been extended through November 9. Tickets are $35 for general admission (arrive early to choose your seat). Reserved seating is available. Visit CATCO.org for more information.

 

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