Had a blast directing FOREVER PLAID (my 16th production) at ArtisTree Music Theatre Festival. We opened Friday, October 11 and run through the 26th. It’s a beautiful space in a beautiful place, and Artistic Director Josh D. Smith has brought together a hardworking family of talented professionals to make the work really excellent and worthwhile. If you’re in/near VT the next few weeks, check it out!
As for revisiting FOREVER PLAID again—it means so much, it’s hard to put into words. I’ll just reprint my Director’s Notes from the program here:
EACH ONE SEEKING HAPPINESS by Morgan Sills
“I DIDN’T INTEND FOR THE SHOW TO BE A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE,” writes Forever Plaid author Stuart Ross, IN ALL CAPS, in his notes that preface the script. “It is supposed to be like the reverse of Back to the Future. We are showing what would happen if people with a 1950s sensibility came to [the present day.]”
Sixteen productions in, and having worked on the show on both sides of the footlights, my perspective on the show continues to evolve. Underneath the catchy tunes and witty script Forever Plaid is many things: a story of second chances, a backstager, a jukebox revue. Lately, it resonates most deeply with me as a ghost story. How would you respond if you were offered the opportunity to return from the beyond to resolve the unresolved, to complete the unfinished? As you sit in your seat reading this, think…what parts of your life would you fix, what relationships would you repair?
Thematically similar to Carousel or The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, in its scant 90-minute running time Forever Plaid doesn’t wait around. It was written during the AIDS-era late 1980s and ran in New York from 1990-94, when scores of people in the arts were dying, often with very little warning. What other revue manages to be so entertaining, and yet pose so many big questions: if we know that no one is guaranteed a tomorrow, what are you doing with your today? how do you find your family when your blood family lets you down? how do you own your life for what it is?
The songs of Forever Plaid traffic in real, sincere, straightforward emotion in a manner completely contrary to today’s ironic world. This musical celebrates the value of having good manners and decorum. Every performance is different because the audience is a character in the play. It’s just the songs, the Plaids, the instrumentalists, and you. And a professional cast like you’re seeing in this production ensures that you’re seeing Forever Plaid at its best.
Sharing music together can be a means of healing the parts of us that are broken. When the Plaids were alive, the lyrics of these songs offered them a kind of salvation, a forecast for their futures, a reason to hope. They’re waiting for the words to come true. And in a way, aren’t we all?