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Sunday, Mar 29, 2015

‘Forever Plaid’ produces magical harmony

Hernando Today Correspondent


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The Plaids never fail to entertain and the current production of “Forever Plaid,” playing at Show Palace in Hudson through Aug. 24, is a smashing success. Steven Flaa is both director and choreographer. This is the 14th time Flaa has directed the show, and he has also performed the role of Sparky several times. His experience guarantees pure perfection. This is a sweet little show filled with sentimental music and one you won’t want to miss.

What is there not to like? Flaa has cast four strong male performers as The Plaids, the performance group on their way to their first big gig in 1964, when their Mercury convertible is broadsided by a bus filled with Catholic schoolgirls on their way to see the Beatles make their debut on the Ed Sullivan show. By some twist of interstellar magic — these four are propelled back to earth once more for a show they never got to do in life — except now it is 2014.

Featuring Dick Baker as Frankie, Brendan Cataldo as Smudge, Matty Colonna as Sparky, and Nick Rishel as Jinx, these four guys voices blend together seamlessly. Harmony, when done well, is magical and here — it is truly magic — as Bill Cusick, music director, ensures that every note is pitch perfect and the harmonies, spot on. Each crescendo and decrescendo builds and releases suspenseful notes, adding expression to these timeless lyrics. Cusick, in formal tuxedo and tails, provides the piano accompaniment with much flourish, as does Irv Goldberg on the bass. Both musicians interact with The Plaids, and provide more laughs to an already very funny show.

On opening night, I heard many humming and singing along to these nostalgic tunes. Even if you did not grow up with these tunes, you will enjoy this wistful journey down memory lane. Opening with “Three Coins in the Fountain,” followed by “Gotta Be This or That,” by the time they harmonize to “Moments to Remember,” you are totally hooked.

I have seen this show at least 10 times over the years, and this is one of the best productions I’ve seen. The music is unforgettable; the jokes still make me laugh out loud, and the antics of these four endearing guys with amazing footwork is enthralling. They side kick, sway, jump, and move constantly, adding to the hilarity of the music they sing, tirelessly belting out these classic melodies. “Crazy About you Baby,” is comical as they sing it just the way they rehearsed in the family plumbing supply company, with toilet plungers.

Matty Colonna is adorable as Sparky. His lovely voice combined with his easy stage presence and boyish charm is contagious, especially in the little known “Perfidia.” Cataldo, as Smudge, is the bass in the group and starts “Sixteen Tons,” a tribute to “men who work,” with the help of some spoons and a bottle of ketchup, and some great facial expressions, followed by Baker, as Franki who leads “Chain Gang,” with his clear voice. Baker is the leader of the group, and he embodies those qualities, showing brotherly affection for the other guys. Cataldo is great as the tall clumsy guy with glasses and two left feet. Through the music, we come to know each of these young men, their passions and dreams.

Perry Como gets a tribute as Colonna sings “The Golden Cardigan” with “Catch a Falling Star.” Then the Plaids go Caribbean with a very funny medley including “Day-O,” “Kingston Market,” and “Matilda, Matilda.” Rishel as Jinx, is the shy one who suffers from nose bleeds, and has a lovely choirboy tenor voice, especially as he tentatively begins “Cry,” and ends with a flourish to wild applause. The Ed Sullivan Tribute is nonstop laughter, with Rishel providing the background music “Lady of Spain,” as the other three recreate the acts that made the show famous. Blink and you might miss it — it is that fast paced.

The finale comes way too soon as we say goodbye to the Plaids. Like Sparky says as they prepare for their final song “We don’t want it to end.” And you won’t either. Don’t miss this delightful musical.

Buy your tickets at the theatre located at 16128 U.S. 19 in Hudson or call the box office at (727) 863 7949. Tickets are also available online at Show time is 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday with a Sunday matinee. Doors open on Friday and Saturday at 6 for cocktails and dinner. Sunday matinee is at 3 p.m. and doors open at 1 p.m. for cocktails and dinner. Dinner and Show is $49.50 plus tax and gratuity. Show only is $38.45 plus tax. Call for children’s pricing.

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