Pity the Plaids, a guy group from the early 1960s featuring a quartet of high school singers. They're just about to play their first big gig when an accident cuts short their careers. But thanks to the magic of theater, they're back in 2013 to play the show they never got to do.
That's the premise of "Forever Plaid," a musical revue written in 1990 highlighting such hits as "Catch a Falling Star," "Cry," "Chain Gang" and other popular 1950s tunes. The CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre production opens tonight at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District Auditorium. We caught up with cast member Kyle Dodson to talk about the show.
Question: Who do you play?
Answer: My character is Smudge, the bass in the group. He's a worrier who is always focused on the future. Because of this, he never gets to enjoy the present. He also loves to help people, but at the cost of never getting a chance to fulfill his own goals.
What's it like to sing close harmony?
Unreal. When performing in a stage musical with an ensemble there are a lot of people singing the same harmony or melody notes, so there's other voices you can rely upon. Here in close harmony, it's only your voice hitting those notes, and when the four of you are completely in sync, the feeling is near-euphoric.
The production is at the 347-seat Clovis Veterans Memorial Auditorium. I've never seen a production there. What can you tell us about the venue?
To be honest, I had no idea there was this new theater back here! But the location is perfect for a show such as this. It's not too large that our show gets lost in the grandeur, but not too small that the audience feels uncomfortable being so close to the actors.
The other three cast members — Peter Allwine, Eric Estep and Darren Tharp — have been in previous productions of the show together, and Scott Hancock, your director, has been at the helm before, too. What is it like to mix with these veterans?
I am a newcomer to "Forever Plaid," though I knew the show previous to being cast. I always heard that if given the opportunity to perform in this show, you shouldn't think twice because the material and characters are so rich. It was overwhelming at first being in a cast with veterans, because within the first week or so they already were back in the groove. Muscle memory, if you will. And between the four of them, Scott being included, the sheer magnitude of their theatre résumé around town is astounding. I truly feel honored to be on the stage with them.
Tell us about your theater background.
This will be my sixth show for CenterStage, having previously portrayed memorable roles as Naphtali/ Pharaoh in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and LeFou in "Beauty and the Beast." I've also broken out as a local director, directing CMT's 2012 production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" and Buchanan High School's 2012 production of "A Christmas Carol." I also participated in Fresno State shows, including "Urinetown" and "Assassins."
Were you a fan of 1950s music before doing this show? If not, what's your take on it now?
I have an eclectic taste in music, so 1950s pop and rock-'n'-roll has always been prevalent on my iPod. (I did just portray an Elvis pharaoh, after all!) However, after being in this show, I have a much larger respect for those artists who were able to achieve such memorable vocals. I always enjoyed listening to '50s pop, but now I hear it in an entirely different way. The close harmony present in this music is something that isn't as common in today's modern music.
Anything special we should know about this production in terms of staging and design?
This show lends itself to its simplicity. From the beginning, Scott Hancock wanted to make sure our production focused on driving these characters, and not letting fancy staging or design get in the way. Certainly be on the lookout for a lively recreation of "The Ed Sullivan Show."
Anything to add?
Thank you to my beautiful wife for putting up with not seeing me much as I took this journey into Plaidland!
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6373, email@example.com and @donaldbeearts on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.