Forever Plaid is an All-Singing, All-Dancing Tribute to an Era
Every so often a wish comes true and people get a second chance at their dream. In Starvox Entertainment’s Forever Plaid playing at the Panasonic Theatre gives a quartet the chance to have that one show they never got to play.
Some might say it’s a concert that is out of this world, but, personally, I think it’s exactly what it says on the tin.
Forever Plaid introduces the audience to The Plaids: a 1950’s/1960’s men’s quartet who tragically died on their way to their big break. Frankie (Jonathan Cullen), Sparky (Scott Beaudin), Smudge (Matt Cassidy), and Jinx (Jeff Madden), navigate their new chance at their dream concert through song, dance, and humour.
I thought the show took a little time to warm up, starting a little slow and unimpressive. Eventually it got into the swing of things, moving at a jaunty pace with high energy. My guest, Joan, absolutely loved it and the audience around us was clearly in agreement. People were laughing, clapping, entirely engaged.
You could say it was one of those perfect evenings. This is a show everyone seems to like — so of course, I’m not entirely satisfied and genuinely underwhelmed.
But first, the positives. I think if you just want a night of solid entertainment, some interactive fun, and something that is good for all ages, Forever Plaid is a really safe bet.
For one, the show is full of fantastic vocals: wonderfully harmonized and beautiful to listen to. Both Joan and I are fans of the quartet style from the era, but it’s not easy. Luckily the cast was more than up to it. You get a bit of everything and the premise lets each cast member shine and it’s up to you to pick your favourite. I loved Madden’s voice. In his solo, Cry, I remember thinking it was nothing like I was expecting because that was someone pulling out any and all stops.
Every so often I would glance over at my guest, see the smile on her face. The high energy, the music, and the references — far over my head here and there from a generational perspective — drew her in. She loved the quartet version of Beatles songs. She loved the comedic timing of the cast, how they worked together.
Every song has its own little dance number that nicely and cleverly fits not only the feel of the piece, but finds the physical comedy without breaking a beat. My absolute favourite was Crazy ‘Bout Ya Baby where the use of plungers was far more entertaining than I thought it could be. I liked the little bits the best, where the music was fundamental to these cutesy moments that played on stereotypical 1950’s optimism. One particularly great gag involved a silent dance to Matilda.
For Joan, who recognized some of the larger jokes about things like the Ed Sullivan show, or adapting The Beatles for quartets; who is a fan of the style, the show was fantastic.
For me, I thought Forever Plaid was fine. It is a show like many others out there built on the popularity of the 1950’s brand. Here are four nice guys who lost their chance, just a couple of standard aw shucks moments built into semi-hold the story together.
They were lucky that they nailed down the team they did, but as for the actual musical, there’s nothing special about it.
Tomorrow or the next day, I’m not going to remember much about the characters, the comedy, or the songs. Creatively I felt it was paint by the numbers. That doesn’t make it bad, and I know for a fact at least some of the jokes were geared towards an entirely different generation. But man, of all the musicals out there, of all the shows out there, Forever Plaid is one that will go on…well, forever.
Yes, this is a bias that impacted my experience and sadly I couldn’t quite look past it. I do think it’s important to point out, especially if you have to decide what you are looking for in a show. Me? I can take or leave Forever Plaid; I suspect there will be plenty of second chances to see it. For others, well, you never know.
- Forever Plaid runs until June 12 at the Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge Street)
- Shows run Tuesday-Sunday at 8pm, with matinees Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2pm
- Ticket prices range from $39.95-$99.95 and can be purchased at the box office prior to the show, by phone at (416) 872-1212, or online here
- Show uses haze and fog machines