REVIEW: Ghostly group played a memorable, dynamic final concert

Does Forever Plaid provide the audi­ence moments to remember? No, Not Much.

Do the players put their Heart and Soul into this production? No, Not Much.

That’s ’50’s lingo for: Yes, a lot. Those sweetly sarcastic lyr­ics of No, Not Much are among the many musical memories the audience really is happy to hear again, especially through the charismatic talents of the performers.

Forever Plaid was the first show and musical hit perform­ed at the Schoolhouse Theatre for Drayton Entertainment in 1997, and it is back by senti­mental demand.

The show is about a quartet of harmonizing hopefuls in limbo. On the way to the big­gest show of their lives they were struck by a bus and lost their lives, but not their will to ace that show.

Providence allows them the chance to play it for all it was worth, before surrendering their souls forever.

Their loss is the audience’s gain. Under that poignant scen­a­rio, the audience immediately warms to the lost young men who died even as they were about to pick up their tacky and beautiful new plaid suits. The songs are favourites from the 1950s and early ’60s that all family members used to enjoy together.

The four harmonize beauti­fully as The Plaids while their individual personalities and insecurities emerge. Comic shenanigans are included throughout.

Jinx is played by Kraig Waye, a Drayton favourite most recently seen in Legends. He is as endearing with his bashful demeanor as he is with his talented singing. With nose­bleeds and stage fright he starts off timid but ends up tenor as they all gain brawn.

Gaining much brawn is Sparky, played by Craig Fair. He easily conveys a loveable brat with a deep side, and he even bellows part of Caribbean Plaid into the ears of unsuspec­ting audience members who are sometimes called into play to add to the fun.

Graham Coffeng plays the leader of the pack, Frankie. He is the stronger one who lends backbone to his pals while en­gaging the audience.

Michael Lomenda plays Smudge, the bumbling tall guy with the glasses. Reminiscent of Clarke Kent, he seems to have some dyslexia going on with the dance moves, although he later displays superman tal­ents along with his baritone.

Patrick Burwell, who starred in the original produc­tion, returns to the current one with his wealth of first hand experience as Director. He also appears onstage as their very accomplished piano player. The only hint of him as actor was when he sauntered offstage with attitude, cigarette at the ready, for his "union" break.

St. Jacobs Schoolhouse The­atre is the perfect venue for this show. The intimate 100 seat setting with table and chairs lends a pleasant lounge feel that allows greater rapport with the players.

Although this show seems to appeal to the older popu­lation who remember the 1950s, anyone could enjoy the spectacle, comedy, and music of this production. While most of the songs are virtually un­heard today and are not re-mix fodder, they are great ones. Dancing in the aisles would not go amiss, though a few drum­ming fingers and tapping feet could be reported.

The opening night the audience was Crazy ‘Bout Ya Baby and rose to a resounding standing ovation.

At that time the produc­tion’s run was 80% sold out. Forever Plaid continues to Dec. 21, eight shows per week. Tickets can be ordered by calling the Drayton Enter­tainment box office at 519-638-5555 or 1-888-449-4463, or www.draytonentertainment.­com.