'Plaid' to be back: Cast of Main Street Theatre's most successful production, 'Forever Plaid,' returns for 11 more performances
Bruce Alsobrook | News-Telegram Editor

The Plaids —(left to right) John White, Dr. Chuck Jones, Kevin Woolley and Michael Dodd — will be on the Main Street Theatre stage again beginning next Friday, Nov. 25. Last year, the show sold out all six planned performances after the first night, resulting in three added encore shows that also sold out. This year, they’re planning 11 performances, including three Sunday matinees.
File Photo

Nov. 17, 2005 - The boys in plaid are back in town.

As in the same cast of “Forever Plaid,” which in August of 2004 became one of the most succesful — if not THE most succesful — productions in the history of Main Street Theatre.

�We are �plaid� to be back in town,� quipped Michael Dodd, who both directs and stars as one of the four singers.

This year, they have 11 performances planned (Nov. 25-27, and Dec. 8-11 and 15-18), including three Sunday matinees for those who can’t make it at night.

Even without advertising or putting up posters, the show is already getting a lot of attention.

�A lot of the shows are over half reserved out,� said Dodd. �People need to make sure they call well in advance to get the date they want.�

That’s not just pre-show hype, either. Last year’s production sold out its entire run by the end of first night. They added two encore peformances, which also sold out. Dodd said most people didn’t know about a third show that was added just for the people who were still on the waiting list — and there were still more who didn’t get to see it.

The story is simple: The Plaids, a four-guy doo-wop group from 1964, are on their way to their first big gig when their 1954 Mercury convertible gets run over by a busload of Catholic school girls on their way to see the Beatles perform on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Forty-one years later, the nerdy crooners miraculously are sent back to Earth to do the show they never got to do in life. The hit musical comedy blends 1950s and 1960s music of rock ‘n roll, popular, show and dance tunes.

The story, peppered with cultural references and comedy that overcome generation gaps — and the show IS funny — is really a plot device that drives a slate of 29 songs, ranging from standards to calypso and old pop tunes.

The cast — Dodd, Dr. Chuck Jones, Kevin Wooley, John White, and accompanists Ken Hanushek and Loren Seely, all members of the North East Texas Choral Society — proved to be more than up to the task of bringing that immense catalog of music to life. 

The more intimate setting of Main Street Theatre helps the production. The audience can feel the "pop" of the plumber's helpers that serve as mock microphones. They get a closer look at all the props and the breakneck-paced costume change in the "The Ed Sullivan Show in 3 minutes and 11 seconds" segment, complete with Topo Gigio, Jose Jimenez and spinning plates.

But it’s the perfect four-part harmony of the singers that distinguishes the show, and the principal players — Dodd, Jones, Woolley and White — had it down to an art last year.

Many who attended the renowned Turtle Creek Chorale's performance of "Forever Plaid" at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas this summer came away even more impressed with the local theater production. Dodd said some of those who performed in the Turtle Creek Chorale show plan to come to Sulphur Springs to see the local performance.

"I've talked to people who have seen the production directed by Stuart Ross (who wrote and choreographed the play) and they say we're very close to them," Dodd said. "I consider that a very high compliment."

There's no question the cast is dedicated to this show. Woolley, who was principal at Sulphur Springs Middle School during the 2004 performance, is now superintendent of Oakwood Independent School District, but he gladly makes the two-hour drive for rehearsals. Chuck Jones scheduled his knee surgery early enough in the year to make a full recovery in time for "Plaid." Loren Seely recently underwent heart surgery, but will still play bass on the show.

The upcoming performance is essentially the same show as last year, with a few twists here and there. The "Caribbean Plaid" set, for example, has been modified to a "Christmas Caribbean Plaid."

"Yeah, it's the same show, but a lot of people wanted to see it again," Dodd said. "It gets you in the mood for a sentimental holiday, because it brings you back to tradiiton."

Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 25-26, Dec. 8-10, and Dec. 15-17, and 2 p.m. Nov. 27, Dec. 11 and Dec. 18.  Tickets are $10. Reservations must be made in advance by calling the Main Street Theatre box office at 903-885-0107; leave a message and contact number and a theatre representative will call back to verify reservations. 

Also, on Dec. 17, there is a special $25 ticket that will include dinner at Judy Gilreath's restaurant prior to the show and dessert after the performance.

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