Friday, 6 February 2015

Forever Plaid musical at the Segal Centre is an extraordinary production

The Segal Centre for Performing Arts in Montreal has developed a well earned reputation for presenting top-notch musicals. Last fall  prominent producer Allan Sandler and his company, Copa de Oro Productions  co-produced the absolutely spectacular  of Les Belles Soeurs the Musical. It was such a gigantic success, a Canadian tour is being mounted for 2016.  Now they have brought us Forever Plaid, the hallmark doo-wop musical, which plays the Segal through Feb. 22 with an extension very likely.

I attended the premiere and let me just say that this was the type of quality production one could expect to see at the Place des Arts. It is no wonder that Sandler already has it booked at the prestigious Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto beginning next September.   While I enjoyed Book of Mormon and Jersey Boys, I must say I rank Forever Plaid at the same level entertainment-wise.

Forever Plaid is a lighthearted musical homage to the golden age of close harmony groups, told through the deliciously goofy story of a 1950s all-male singing group, “The Plaids.” Killed in a car crash on their way to their first big concert (cleverly depicted via a big screen cartoon), the quartet of high-school singers - Jinx, Smudge, Sparky and Frankie- are miraculously revived to get one final chance at musical glory and perform the show that never was.  Stars Chris Barillaro, Gab Desmond, Michael Daniel Murphy and Jonathan Patterson are beyond superb in their roles. They can sing, dance and dish out pure comedy. I’d go see it again just to experience the brilliant three minute and 11 second spoof on a typical series of skits from the legendary Ed Sullivan Show. 

Patterson, Desmond, Barillaro and Murphy

There is a big team behind this production, with Sandler`s eldest son Sean steering the ship and the revered Roger Peace in the director`s chair. The 79 year old actually has the distinction of having appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.

“If I had to use one word to describe this show it would simply be ‘fun,’” said Sean Sandler, who was warmly saluted by his dad during a post-show presentation. “There is a good reason why Plaid has captured the hearts of audiences for decades. Forever Plaid is a musical that manages to be modern and nostalgic at the same time.

Says Allan Sandler: “We have made a few changes to the show. But it really is the same shtick. I am approaching the end of my career now and I wanted to do a few more of my own musicals. The Belles Soeurs took me five years to get on stage and now it’s Forever Plaid. I was deathly ill not too long ago. I almost did not make it. Somehow I was able to beat this and come back.”

Sandler believes audiences will eat up Forever Plaid (I agree), specifically its medley of 1950s pop hits played in perfect harmony as the quartet bob-shoo-bops their way to fame. This 1990 musical creation was inspired by such iconic vocal formations as The Four Aces, The Four Lads, The Hi-Lo’s and The Crew Cuts.

Forever Plaid was born as an off-Broadway musical revue in 1990. It played The Centaur twice in the 1990s and there was a motion picture version in 2009.

Some of the songs audiences can look forward to are Love is a Many Splendored Thing, Three  Coins in the Fountain and Moments to Remember?  The performance of Matilda is lots of fun and by the time the finale rolls around the entire audience is up on its feet moving to the beat.

Of course presenting this show at the Segal Centre promises everyone who attends the best seat in the house.

Tickets are $32 to $64. Call 514-739-7944 or visit www.segalcentre.org. It runs 80 minutes, with no intermission.



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