Do you ever wonder if there is life after death? Although the answer is a mystery, the musical “Forever Plaid” toys with the idea of an afterlife.
The musical tells a story of four young men during the 1950s with dreams and aspirations of becoming a successful “guy group” like The Four Aces or The Hi-Lo’s. The quartet named themselves the Plaids. Unfortunately, their music careers quickly ended when they died in a car crash. The musical “Forever Plaid” begins at that end — with the Plaids resurrected for a final shot at a successful music career.
CATCO, a local theater company in Columbus, is producing the musical.
Matt Clemens, the director of “Forever Plaid,” had prior familiarity with the musical — before Clemens directed this production, he played the role of Sparky, one of the four leads.
Clemens said his past experience as an actor helped him direct the CATCO production of the play.
“When you are an actor, you sort of direct yourself, and you receive director notes from a director’s perspective. So from that, the next logical step is to be the main storyteller as the director,” he said.
And one of the ways Clemens telling the story is through pairing the acting and singing in the CATCO production of “Forever Plaid” with live music rather than a digital soundtrack, which he prefers.
“(With a soundtrack) there is not room for any real changes,” Clemens said. “With live musicians, the musicians are part of the production — if something goes wrong, they can cover where a soundtrack can’t.”
Producing director Steven Anderson said the cast works well together.
“The harmonies are so lush and close together, it’s as if (one voice) is salvaged and there are four of them,” Anderson said. “(The characters) all form together to make one personality.”
Anderson credits the intimacy for setting the CATCO production apart from other renditions.
“(Our venue) seats about 75 people. An audience that size is just so much more personal and so you feel like you really get to know these guys,” Anderson said.
Clemens agreed, and said as the viewer gets to know the characters in the venue, he or she might feel an emotional attachment to the actors, almost like a friendship.
The smaller venue allows room for audience interaction. Anderson said a “The Ed Sullivan Show” sequence in the production encourages audience participation, but also requires some improvisation skills from the actors.
Austin Josapak, a second-year in history, said the ‘50s were filled with strong moral correctness, as well as controversy.
“(‘Forever Plaid’) reminds me of ‘The Jersey Boys,’ and since the movie version (of ‘Jersey Boys’) just came out, it makes this piece more appealing and more topical for me,” Josapak said.
Because of the era in which it’s based, the genre of songs in the musical and the intimate relationships that develop between the audience and characters, Clemens said the production is endearing, wholesome and nostalgic.
Forever Plaid is set to open at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Studio Three at the Riffe Center. Tickets are $35.
Students can purchase tickets for $15 with a valid ID two hours before any performance.