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Warm and funny still woven into "Plaid"

January 18, 2011|By Mary Burkin

Just the name, “Forever Plaid,” implies something timeless, something valuable and something very silly. It also means a special kind of loyalty, if only to a particular fabric pattern. The Glendale Centre Theatre’s production of “Forever Plaid” is just as warm, funny and wonderful as any of its incarnations since it first arrived Off-Broadway in 1990. It’s the perfect Las Vegas stage show. Here’s the chance to spend 90 minutes singing and laughing with four really nice dead guys.

As the program explains, the Four Plaids were killed in an accident with a Catholic High School bus full of teens on the way to see The Beatles debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The kids were uninjured, but the Plaids were cut down, never to make it to their first big gig at the Airport Hilton cocktail bar. If they had been anything other than a hard-working, talented group of fellas who “didn’t get beyond first base, and if they did, they didn’t tell anyone,” the Gods might not have given them this second chance to find that perfect chord in four-part harmony.

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The Four Plaids are played by talented, thorough professionals, bringing each of their characters’ idiosyncrasies to life. They can sing, act, dance and keep a straight face, all at the same time. Frankie (Alex Camp), Smudge (Danny Michaels), Sparky (Kurt Cereske) and Jinx (Daniel Thomas) become the kind of people you want to invite home after the show, so you can serve them hot fudge sundaes.

The nifty costumes — in this case the obligatory tuxedos that even The Beatles started out with — are beautifully designed and executed by Angela Wood and Glendale Costumes. Steven Applegate, the musical director, who also plays live piano for the group with the help of Uncle Chester (Timothy Emmons) on bass, scores a Big Wow for a job excellently done. Never before has “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing” sounded so good.

Director Orlando Alexander clearly knows talent when he sees it. Better yet, he can blend the actors, the story, the music, the sound, the sets and the choreography into one near perfect 1960s fantasy.

One song segment, “Heart and Soul,” includes audience participation. If you are the shy type, not to worry. The Plaids are invariably kind, considerate and respectful. By then, the audience has transformed itself into a plaid-loving fan club. And you simply have to stay in your seat for the “Lady of Spain” number.

Mary Burkin is a Burbank actress and playwright and Glendale author.


Infobox

What: “Forever Plaid,” by Stuart Ross and James Raitt

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday until Jan. 29

Where: Glendale Centre Theatre, 324 N. Orange St., Glendale

Tickets: $23 to $26

Contact: (818) 244-8481

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