A few weeks back, I wrote a rather dismissive post about the one-night-only 20th anniversary cinecast of Forever Plaid, which took place last night. I expressed skepticism as to whether this was the show that the movie-going public was really crying out to see. In response, the folks at NCM Fathom contacted me, inviting me to see the show and judge for myself.
Well, I went. And there were 17 people in the theater, including me and three friends, who had received comps. And this is in Boston, which is about as receptive a locale as any for a show such as this. I get the feeling that there were a lot of empty or near-empty theaters among the 500 or so that were part of the simulcast.
I had never seen Forever Plaid before; it just never really caught my interest. And now that I've seen the show, it still doesn't. On paper, the premise is promising: a four-part close-harmony men's group dies in a car crash, run off the road by a bus filled with Catholic school girls. But for some inscrutable reason, they're granted passage back to earth for one final performance, I guess to earn their place in heaven or some such reason. It really wasn't clear, and I'm frankly not moved to do any research to find out.
Overall, I found the show, created and directed by one Stuart Ross, to be a yawn-fest, repetitious beyond the limits of my patience. I guess I'm just not a fan of this category of song (e.g. "Three Coins in the Fountain," "Love is a Many Splendored Thing," "Matilda," "Rags to Riches" etc.) Perhaps if I were, I would have been more engaged. I was momentarily entertained during the sequence during which the Plaids pay tribute to "The Ed Sullivan Show," which contained some very fun moments, props, and performances. Original Plaid cast members Stan Chandler (Jinx) and David Engel (Smudge) were on hand, joined by Larry Raben (Sparky) and Daniel Reicherd (Frankie). A very talented foursome to be sure, but I found myself wishing I were seeing them in a show that gave them a chance to show what they can really do.
The cinecast included a pre-taped performance of the show, which again I found mostly dull, followed by a live segment featuring the cast members, with special guest star Carol Channing. During the after-show, the Plaids performed some doo-wop versions of "Memory" and "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" that I actually found quite enjoyable. Then, my beloved Carol came onstage and sang "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," and even at the advanced age of 88, my girl Carol was an absolute delight. If they release the Forever Plaid movie on DVD, I'm hoping that they'll include the after-concert in the DVD extras. Because, although I can't imagine being in any hurry to watch Forver Plaid again, I would like to get another viewing of the doo-wop showtunes and Carol's star turn.
So, the night was not a total loss. Plus, I got to meet and spend time with my fellow bloggers Scot and Michael Colford (see their respective takes on Forbidden Plaid here and here) as well as my BGMC buddy Victor R-R-R-R-R-Ramos. But it makes me wonder what I'm going to think of The Marvelous Wonderettes when I see it next week, which strikes me as pretty darned similar to Forever Plaid. Oh well. It's all a part of my journey to offer as full a chronicle as possible of modern musical theater. The things I do for you, dear reader.