FOREVER PLAIDby Stuart Ross
Grand Prairie Arts Council
Director: J. Alan Hanna
Musical Director: Alec Bart
Stage Manager & Props Design: Lynn Mauldin
Set Design: Matt Betz
Costume Design: Eric Criner
Sound Design: Heather Augustine
Lighting Design: Jordan Fetter & Edgar Hernandez
Francis - Randy Lyle
Smudge - John Anthony Sanchez
Sparky - Gary Eoff
Jinx - Michael Alonzo
Pianist - Alex Bart
Bass Player - Sara Bolinger
Reviewed Performance: 3/24/2012
Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
With excellent musical performances and choreography, Forever Plaid keeps audiences laughing, singing, and clapping along.
When you first walk into the small, black box space at the Uptown Theater you see it has been effectively turned into a nightclub/cabaret venue for the night. The audience sits at candlelit tables with seating for four. However, there are no waiters or waitresses.
All refreshments may be purchased in the lobby and brought back to your table. The setting is very appropriate for the presentation of Forever Plaid. The show works well in the intimate environment.
The set is simple, a black stage with brick wall background, a piano, a stool, and a music stand for the bass player. However, there are a few wonderful surprises revealed throughout the show.
The costumes are well thought out and detail-oriented. The Plaids and the bass player, Sara Bolinger, all wear plaid bow ties. The Plaids also pay tribute to the fabric, plaid, with a beautiful rendition of Scottish the Brave which does sound better when not played on the bagpipes. And when the Plaids receive their new coats for the finale of the show, having their names sewn inside was a great touch.
Forever Plaid is the story of a quartet named The Plaids, who died in a car accident over 50 years ago on the way to their "big break" performance. But on this special night they are allowed to come back to earth to fulfill their dream of having one great show. Being dead hasn't dulled their voices nor have they forgotten their choreography.
However, nerves do affect their performance in hilarious ways as they stumble through numbers and a number of small catastrophes.
The music direction, combined with the vocal talent of all four men, is impeccable. In the first song, "Three Coins in the Fountain", the harmonic abilities are apparent and incredible. Alec Bart does a great job preparing the Plaids for their performance. Each song is a pleasure to listen to.
The four performers are also very well rehearsed in their movements, keeping them well synchronized throughout the performance. The choreography is also a source for many funny moments. Whether it's a silly dance or a circus of performances representing the entire Ed Sullivan show in 3 minutes 11 seconds, the audience is kept wondering what will come next with wonderful anticipation.
The most spirited performance comes from John Anthony Sanchez as Smudge. His silly nature is allowed to flourish as he swings his hips in ways that would make Elvis jealous, demonstrates how an old record can sing to him, and shows off a very special talent in the big Ed Sullivan show finale.
Michael Alonzo is excellent as the shy, awkward Jinx who is prone to nose bleeds. He speaks and sings in soft tones, the high tenor of the group, until a particularly emotional moment in his featured song grabs him and he busts loose in hilarious fashion. Also, the looks he gives Gary Eoff as he interrupts Jinx's story are comedic gold.
With Sanchez as the base and Alonzo the tenor, the Plaids have a strong core in Randy Lyle as Francis, who thinks he is much more of a ladies' man than he actually is, and Gary Eoff as Sparky, sometimes piano player and Jinx's older step-brother. Lyle, an accomplished violin and piano player, makes a strong Uptown Theater debut with his effortless storytelling ability.
Eoff also makes his Uptown Theater debut but brings a wealth of onstage experience that shows through his performance.
Forever Plaid is a great show that should be seen. Its family friendly and moves quickly for a 90 minute presentation. The comedy is superb and the music is excellent. It is truly the best musical I have seen this year.
Uptown Theater, Grand Prairie Arts Council
120 East Main St., Grand Prairie, TX 75050
Runs through April 1st
NOTE: Thursday March 29 performance has been canceled due to cast emergency.
Friday March 30, Saturday March 31 at 8:00pm
Sunday April 1st at 2:00pm
Only 100 seats per show - Night Club Style Seating
Tickets: $11.00 each - general admission.
Seated at tables of 4
For more info and to purchase tickets, go to artsgp.com.
You may also purchase by calling thei