by Lorie Lewis Ham
There’s nothing quite like four guys singing together in four-part harmony! It’s a beautiful sound and one you will hear plenty of if you go see the musical Forever Plaid this weekend presented by CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre.
According to director Scott Hancock, Forever Plaid is the story of four high schoolers who formed their own singing group and were prepping to really “hit it big.” They were killed in a car crash before ever having the chance. This show is their return to Earth to get their one chance at their “big break.”
Earlier this summer, CenterStage produced Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. They typically do 2-3 shows a year. For their second show this year, there were a couple of reasons they chose to do Forever Plaid, according to CenterStage artistic director Chris Lang. “Besides being a personal favorite of mine, Forever Plaid was chosen because we needed a ‘small’ musical for the Clovis Veterans Memorial District Auditorium. The intimate nature of the facility lends itself well to Forever Plaid.”
This is the third time directing this show for Hancock. “Normally, I don’t like to direct the same piece again, but this show resonates with me personally on so many levels: chasing dreams, making sacrifices to follow your calling into the arts, and most importantly, the bond these four characters share. They aren’t related by blood, but their bond is closer than most families.”
Hancock stated that one of the unique things about this show is that you can go in two different directions with it. If you have stellar vocalists with minimal acting skills, it works as a doo-wap style concert with a little story behind it. “If you have performers with serious acting chops as well, the story becomes as lyrical as the music. It’s a gorgeous story that, even in the midst of fun music, has a few dark moments and can incite some feelings from the audience they normally don’t associate with musical theater. I’ve been fortunate enough to always be able to work with performers who have both the vocal and acting chops to allow the show to be its full ‘self.'”
As to what he looks for when casting the show, Hancock said that obviously vocal skill is number one, but a lot of other factors play into it as well, including the need for the four guys to read the same age onstage. It doesn’t matter if they all look 20 or 50, but the audience has to believe that they were in high school together. “Then there’s the elusive term chemistry,” continued Hancock. “As a director, it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what that is, but it’s clearly apparent when it’s NOT there. If the friendships seemed forced or ‘acted,’ the audience can spot that from a mile away. These guys really are good friends and I wish the audience could have seen some of the rehearsal nights when they decided to let loose and start messing with each other. As a director, you want to keep rehearsals focused and moving forward, but it’s just as valuable to allow ‘play time’ (and I have to admit, I’m the instigator sometimes.)”
Local actor Peter Allwine has played the character Jinx in all three of the productions of this show that Hancock has directed, and was involved backstage with another production before that. “Jinx is the shyest, most timid member of the group. He has a super fear of performing alone, and is probably genuinely scared of having to do most things on his own.
“I love this show. I feel lucky and blessed to have been a part of it four times, and I think the thing that keeps me coming back is the connection this show has with its audience. It could be labeled a ‘jukebox musical’, but if you really break it down – there is such a beautiful story being told here.”
The rest of the cast this time around are Eric Estep as Frankie, the leader of the group; Kyle Dodson as Smudge, the man-child with a heart of gold; and Darren Tharp as Sparky, the cut-up of the group.
I have seen this show several times myself and if you love four guys singing in beautiful harmony like I do, you do not want to miss it! It’s a fun show!
There will only be four performances of Forever Plaid at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District Auditorium, 808 4th Street in Clovis, so hurry and get your tickets. Plaid runs from Thursday, September 19 through September 21. Evening performances begin at 7:30 with one matinee on September 21 at 2 p.m. The Box Office opens 1 hour prior to performance. Tickets are: Adult: $15, Student/Senior: $12. Tickets available at the door or online at www.centerstageclovis.com through ETIX. Space is limited.
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