Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Review: 'Forever Plaid' at Stage West hits the spot

Ryan Bintz as Frankie, left, Jason Yungmann as Smudge, Madison Byers as Jinx, and Jeff Germann as Sparky are stars in Forever Plaid at Stage West Community Playhouse.

Courtesy of Carol Ballard

Ryan Bintz as Frankie, left, Jason Yungmann as Smudge, Madison Byers as Jinx, and Jeff Germann as Sparky are stars in Forever Plaid at Stage West Community Playhouse.

SPRING HILL — To hear them sing, you'd think that Ryan Bintz, Jeff Germann, Jason Yungmann and Madison Byers have been doing close harmony on tunes from the 1950s and 1960s all their lives. They blend, they soar, they have fun.

But they've been together mere weeks — only three, in the case of Byers, a replacement for a truant original cast member — preparing to perform one truly enjoyable musical, Forever Plaid.

The show will run through Sunday at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill.

It's the charming tale set in 1964 about a group of, well, nerds, who practiced the songs made famous by pop groups such as the Crew-Cuts, the Four Lads, the Four Freshmen in the basement of one member's home, using long-handled toilet plungers as pretend microphones.

They've just about perfected their set, paid their dues singing at weddings, anniversaries, grocery store grand openings, and family reunions, and have landed their first "real" gig at the Airport Hilton cocktail bar, the Fusel Lounge.

But even as their kind of singing is just about to be overtaken by the British Invasion of 1964, their car was broad-sided by a school bus full of Catholic girls on their way to see the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. The girls were fine, but the guys were all killed. Now, through some miracle, they've been allowed to come back to Earth one more time to give the show they were supposed to give at the Fusel Lounge.

After all, they are Plaids forever, Plaids being their chosen stage name.

Some productions of this show (and they are legion) designate each character according to voice, but director Leanne Germann and music director Carol Ballard assigned songs according to performer, which works out fine.

Germann plays Sparky, the group cut-up and usually the tenor, but Germann shines doing the deep-bass Tennessee Ernie Ford classic, Sixteen Tons, while Yungmann as Smudge, the traditional bass, soars in Love Is a Many Splendored Thing and Catch a Falling Star.

Ryan Bintz as Frankie (he's really "Francis," but doesn't like that so changed it), is delightful in many songs, including Rags to Riches, and an inspiration as he dramatically describes the perfect chord done in perfect harmony to show the guys that they actually did achieve their singing goal while on Earth before. Byers shows many talents as Jinx, playing piano and singing Heart and Soul, and doing a sweet falsetto to start the Jamaican medley.

Still, the Plaids may be coolest when they do those sweet harmonies and choreographer Jessica Virginia's neat coordinated hand and foot moves, a la the Temptations. Never silly, but often funny, they do a 3 minute 11 second version of Sullivan with all the characters familiar to anyone who watched it during its long run.

The onstage combo of Ballard on piano, Lauren Ballard on bass and Rick Foti on drums is just right for this quartet. Misty Hornsby and Hailey Schubert's lighting designs help create the magic of those days, as do Germann's costumes.

In truth, the magic moments in this 90-minute, plus intermission, show are too numerous to count, especially for those who know every word to every song and for whom every song brings back a memory. Of course, newbies will like it, too.

Oops, forgot — newbies wasn't a word in 1964.

Make that "first-timers."

>>if you go

Forever Plaid

The musical runs through Sunday at Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill. Shows are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15, reserved seating. Call (352) 683-5113.

Review: 'Forever Plaid' at Stage West hits the spot 03/17/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 5:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics


    Winner of the week 1: 'Liquor wall’ proponents. Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of a bill to allow Walmart, Target and other big box stores to sell liquor was a victory for an array of groups, from smaller merchants and Publix (which has stand-alone booze shops near its stores) to those who feel the hard stuff …

  2. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa


    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  3. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  4. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title


    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  5. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.