The rehearsal hall goes quiet for a moment while the four singers of the upcoming Forever Plaid focus on their parts.
The room suddenly fills with four-part harmony so deep and full that no accompaniment is necessary.
Such is the talent of Shawn Chapman, Shane Davis, Brent Wilkinson and Adam Forristal, stars of Carrie Beauchamp’s next Hidden Talents show at the Imperial Theatre.
Decked out in bow ties and jackets, the four men bring back an era when guy groups like the Four Tops and The Platters ruled the airwaves and life was a little simpler.
“The energy is high and there are a lot of laughs. This is definitely a feel good show that also pulls at your heartstrings,” says Wilkinson, who has performed in earlier Beauchamp productions of Les Miserables and the Nightingale’s Victorian Christmas.
Forever Plaid, written by Stuart Ross, is a musical homage to the popular close-harmony groups of the 1950s.
The show’s characters, Jinx, Frankie, Sparky and Smudge, dream of recording an album. But, before their first performance, they die when their ’54 Mercury collides with a bus filled with Catholic schoolgirls off to see the Beatles’ U.S. debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.
“It’s got its sombre moments but it’s not dark,” assured Wilkinson. “When it sinks in for the guys that they are dead, they realize they have one last chance to perform.”
Through the power of harmony and expanding holes in the ozone layer they are transported back to sing the show they never got to do in life.
They sing music from their strongest influences – even a full tribute to Perry Como – and enjoy the songs they associate with good times.
Forristal and Chapman provide tenor, Davis is baritone and Wilkinson is bass. While some songs are performed a cappella, most are accompanied by a band on stage.
In an unusual move, Beauchamp is producing Forever Plaid. She generally directs but this time, she was double booked.
“I planned on doing Forever Plaid because I knew we had the talent in town,” she said. But an opportunity also came along to direct Glee, a Hidden Talents show that closed last week.
While Beauchamp was busy with Glee, she assembled the team of Megan Hadley to direct, Sara Joy to do musical direction and Jackie Burns to do choreography for Forever Plaid.
Hadley has directed Forever Plaid twice before in Sarnia and says she loves the show.
“The characters are real. You know people who are just like them,” she said. “They’re honest and they’re gentlemen. I just love listening to them.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Forever Plaid, a Hidden Talents production
WHEN: June 22 – June 25 with a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee.
WHERE: Imperial Theatre
TICKETS: The Imperial box office. 519-344-7469 or online. $28 adults; $24 seniors and $19 students.
ARTS SCHOLARSHIP AVAILABLE
Applications are being accepted now for The Suncor Energy Foundation Walter F. Petryschuk Arts Award. Lambton Kent high school students entering first year of a post-secondary program focusing on visual, literary or performing arts can apply for the $2,500 award.
Submit applications to the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts prior to 4 p.m. July 9. For details and an application package, contact the Lawrence House at 519-337-0507.
The Arts Journal reflects the great things happening culturally in Sarnia. Send your ideas to Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or call 226-932-0985.