FOREVER PLAID – St James Studio

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

★★★★
St James Studio, London – until 24 April 2016
Then touring

The gingham tablecloths set the tone for Forever Plaid, currently downstairs at St James’ Studio. Look closely and the “menu cards” are actually the evening’s set list. If it wasn’t for the excellent performances on display, all that would be missing would be a juke-box to seal the illusion of 1960’s Americana that Forever Plaid so carefully re-creates.

With a plotline as melodramatic as the era it tells of, we meet The Plaids, a fictitious covers band all killed in a road crash and whose spirits are returned to Earth to perform a gig. It’s a ridiculous conceit and one that can only work at all if the show’s actors are at the top of their game. Fortunately, they are.

The quartet’s harmonies are simply the closest possible. The show opens with Three Coins In The Fountain, a Rat Pack classic that so defines the period, before bespectacled bass man (and bass player) Matthew Quinn makes a perfectly weighted contribution to Gotta Be This Or That. Luke Striffler‘s Frankie is handed most of the evening’s (occasionally too cheesy) narrative, however with a perfect vocal contribution, his singing delights throughout.

Keith Jack (of BBC’s Any Dream Will Do fame) delights as the geeky Sparky, though it is Jon Lee, with a track record that includes both S Club 7 and having played Franke Valli in Jersey Boys, whose voice (especially in Cry) provides the cherry on the top of this malted milk shake of a show.

It’s not just the voices that shine. Accompanying throughout on piano (and occasionally on the far too rarely heard melodica) Anthony Gabriele delivers his usual musical perfection. Grant Murphy (assisted here by Katie Bradley) choreographs the four in routines that are as slick as they are witty. Ben Rogers’ lighting design works a treat, (I LOVED the location-specific pantograph flood light as a finale touch), whilst Nik Corrall offers an ingenious design of stage and costume, with vinyl and chrome microphone stands everywhere
More than just a selection of perfectly performed classics, Forever Plaid offers a step back in time. It may be corny, but it’s classy.

Runs until 24th AprilThen touring to the Radlett Centre and Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

Jonathan Baz on RssJonathan Baz on Twitter
Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.
Read more...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jonathan Baz on RssJonathan Baz on Twitter
Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.

Leave a Comment