Friday, January 13, 2006

They're not kidding when they say FOREVER Plaid ...

Forever Plaid opened Thursday night to a packed and appreciative house. The show has a loyalty unlike any I've ever seen. It really put our Jaeb Theater on the map in contrast with the building's much larger halls, and to be fair it's really the perfect show for the space. It's one of those shows that people, for whatever reason, come to see again and again and ask about all the while in between engagements.

I also have an interesting thread that ties me to that show and this building. It was the first Center-produced show I saw at TBPAC in my 1993-94 school year at USF. I'd come through the building many times in high school as part of the State Thespian Festival, so I'd seen more than my share of high school productions, and I am pretty sure I'd seen Eric Bogosian at TBPAC earlier that same year.

My friend Neela in the theater dept. had a boyfriend named Billy who was the stage manager of the show. I recall thinking that the show was squeaky-clean and very well sung. It's a clever piece, to be sure. I also remember really enjoying all of the action that broke the 4th wall (what we call it when an audience disregards that invisible wall seperating the stage from the audience to interact with them), particularly when the cast runs into the house with poles topped with light-up bananas and multi-colored light strands into the audience. My absolute favorite though has to be the whole Ed Sullivan Show done in 3 minutes and 11 seconds.

Sidebar: What does Center-produced mean? There are many kinds of performances here at TBPAC. There are shows we book in with other partners, or co-promoters, which come as a ready-to-go packaged show (like the Broadway shows tens of thousands see here every year). There are shows that come through that simply rent the space from TBPAC and are usually self-sufficient otherwise. Then there are the shows that TBPAC builds from the ground up and are all "ours." We cast, rehearse, build the sets and costumes - you name it. Plaid is one of those shows.

Forever Plaid is the longest-running musical in Florida history, and it appears that most of the cast in this version of the show have been treated well by the musical comedy. Two cast members have done the show four times each (three of which were here) and the others, though having never played Tampa before, have also each done the show in multiple cities.

Try to catch this incarnation while you can.

- David J.

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