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Restaurant lunch highlights:

Art & About: 'Forever Plaid'

Plaids-men will sing you out of your funk

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

If you went to see the Hippodrome's Play FOREVER PLAID, you might become a background singer for a very fun version of Harry Belafonte's MATILDA?

Does that remind you of all those absurdly entertaining acts on the iconic Ed Sullivan Show of bygone years GLOBers?

To sound like old Ed Sullivan himself, FOREVER PLAID is "a really good shew" of very funny, beautifully choreographed, professionally presented 26 musical favorites of bygone songs from decades ago.

Even if the songs weren't your favorites way back when, don't be surprised to hear yourself singing lyrics like "MAH-TIL-DA, take the money and run Venezuela" under your breath.



That's what the FOREVER PLAID boys will do to you. Visiting Hippodrome Director, Stephen Flaa, has brought some of his favorite Plaid actors to Gainesville while enlisting many local Hipp Plaid-ians to recreate the world of early 1950s classic songs.

From what could have been a story from the TwiLight Zone, Forever Plaid creates a nostalgic look back at music and events from the way-back era. No worries, GLOBer, some of these songs might be new to you, but the clever words combined with, at times, hilarious acting will keep you in your seat wanting more.

"Money was to buy a house and land. Matilda got a serious plan."

That was the FOREVER PLAID boys' mission--After dying in a tragic automobile accident on their way to finally making the big time, some universal force of music has given them one more opportunity to return to life and perform at a "a really big show."

Sparky (Matt Colonna), Jinx (Nick Endsley), Smudge (Charles Logan), and Frankie (James D. Gish) grab at this opportunity to give the performance of their lives ... er, uh ... afterlives.

Set Designer, Timothy J. Dygert, has set the stage perfectly with a surreal look of an all plaid afterlife of stage performances including an archway for introducing new songs and skits.



Costume Designer, Molly Demers, has everyone thinking plaid, to the point of BIG PLAID confirmation and appreciation in the final scene. (After conversation with theater partner K. Steinfeldt I looked up my mother's family Tartan.)

I have been impressed with the acting virtuosity of frequent Hipp actor Brian Mercer in past performances. What a great surprise to see Bryan M. is also an accomplished pianist and Musical Director.



Hippodrome actors Mr. Mercer and bassist Adam Lishwawa were perfectly cast as supporting musicians doing their best to make the Forever Plaids boys look good in the foreground on this imaginary stage of K-Tel Records prize-winning favorites.

The screenplay, written by Stuart Ross, lacks detail in the plot department, but that's OK because the FOREVER PLAID boys have 26 songs in the story to make you forget about plot.

But here's what happens: Four high school kids from the early 1960s form a singing quartet and call themselves The Plaids. They have big dreams of recording an album. The dream is shattered when the boys are killed in a car accident right before they could record their first record. They were struck by a bus of parochial schoolgirls on their way to see the Beatles debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show." However, wouldn't you know it, all is not lost in a Rocky-like story line of one more chance at musical success.

FOREVER PLAID  is a four part harmonious chorus of characters each with their unique interpretations of their music. This play is an ensemble collaboration in many different ways with each actor, character, singer, Plaid member contributing equally, yet also getting a chance or two to sing solos.

zzGLOBbullet Nic060817coatsVerticalk Endsley gives Jinx a huge dose of fun comic sensibility in his solo on "Cry".

zzGLOBbullet As Smudge, Charles Logan is hilarious in his continually mixing up left and right, and his deep booming solo on "16 Tons" is impressive.

zzGLOBbullet James Gush, incorporating a keen sense of showmanship as Frankie, ensures that this somewhat-leader of the group keeps the foursome in line.

zzGLOBbullet Matty Colonna's Sparky, my favorite character, often times stole scenes with very funny theatrical schticks and mannerisms. Matty's very funny musical scenes brought to mind Steve MartinSteve Martin and Bill Murray. He was captivatingly funny singing and acting his part in Harry Thomas' MATILDA.

The second act comes to life and for anyone familiar with the Ed Sullivan Show this scene of theatrical parody, in and of itself would, have been an excellent Ed Sullivan opening act.

The FOREVER PLAID songs were perfectly orchestrated with very tight four part harmonies that persuaded me these actors were trained music professionals.

These Plaid boys can really sing!

What great fun. The play is a perfect, happy, laugh-out-loud diversion from a black-and-white world of ugly politics, finger pointing, and blame.

The GLOB Master is hoping he has a chance for a second FOREVER PLAID viewing.

"Matilda, she take the money and run VEN-EZ-ZU-A- LA."

Special thanks to the DOWNTOWN Gainesville website for use of their images. FOREVER PLAID continues at the Hippodrome Theatre through June 25 with various show dates, and times. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more FOREVER PLAID information.

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