VanDriel: This version of “Forever Plaid” not a must-see but provides enjoyable time at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
January 18, 2017
WHERE TO GO
WHAT: “Forever Plaid” a production of Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
WHEN: Thursday – Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees through March 12
WHERE: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, 4747 Market Place Drive, Johnstown
TICKET INFO: (970) 744-3747
There are probably not many local theatre fans who have never seen a production of "Forever Plaid."
More than a dozen productions of the show, as well as the Christmas themed spin-off, "Plaid Tidings," have graced the stages at numerous area venues in the past few years. It is a relatively easy show to produce: All you really need are four males who can sing. Not a lot of acting is required, and essentially no set and few props or costumes are needed. In other words, it is inexpensive to produce, and the payoff is usually high.
I have enjoyed the show every time I have seen it, but I learned to not expect anything new. As long as the voices are strong and can blend, you can just relax and enjoy the music because that's what this show is really about.
The current production at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse is not the best version of "Plaid" I have seen, yet it is far from the worst. I would have to say I enjoyed the opening weekend performance, but there's just nothing outstanding about it where I can say "don't miss the show!"
Directed by Matt LaFontaine, who has had several memorable performances of his own at Candlelight recently, this version just lacks oomph. It drags in spots, especially in the transitions between songs, and much of the corny humor falls a little flat. As LaFontaine eloquently points out in his program notes, this is a rare show that has no conflict or bad guys, and it has a simple, though somewhat implausible storyline.
There is also no original music, but rather it is a revue of the songs of the tight harmony 1950s guy groups. LaFontaine also notes that Plaid "takes us back to the days of uncomplicated complications," and it is that sweet nostalgia that makes the show work and keeps it from becoming outdated literature. These Plaids – Stephen Charles Turner, Mikeal MacBeth, Jon Tyler Heath and Ben Welch – perform the music very well. Accompanied only by a piano/bass combo, they are balanced and perfectly in tune. The best songs are "Crazy 'Bout Ya Baby," "Sixteen Tons," "Catch a Falling Star," "Heart and Soul" and especially "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing."
The Candlelight once again has customized the menu to the show, adding several 1950s standards to their choices, including meatloaf, chicken divan and tuna-melt-stuffed tomato. As always, the service is prompt and friendly.
This production of "Forever Plaid" is fun. It's just not fantastic. You will probably catch yourself humming along with the performers on at least a couple of the songs, and it's a nice diversion from the cold days of winter.
— Bryan VanDriel lives in Greeley and has been active in the arts for over 35 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.