Saint Vincent Summer Theatre kicks off season with ‘Forever Plaid’
Greggory Brandt knows the best way to follow a memorable 50th anniversary season is by offering an even more memorable 51st season.
Brandt, producing artistic director for Saint Vincent Summer Theatre and director and professor of theater at Saint Vincent College, is ready to do just that as the equity theater prepares to present its new season of shows.
The offerings will feature Stuart Ross’ “Forever Plaid” from May 23-June 2, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” June 27-July 7 and Ted Swindley’s “Always … Patsy Cline” Aug. 1-11.
“I wanted to move forward as we begin our 51st season and selecting three pretty popular and momentous musicals was the theme and idea, welcoming everyone to ‘Be Our Guest’ this summer,” says Brandt. “Each of the three shows offers something to our audience base as well as hopefully a new audience base.”
He also wanted to offer a “family-friendly” type of musical and says “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” was the perfect fit.
“It’s such a popular musical for every age range, and we’re very excited about having it as part of our 51st summer season,” he says.
Back to the 1950s
The first show, “Forever Plaid,” is a musical revue that takes audiences back to the pop hits of the 1950s. It’s about four high school buddies that love singing harmony together. They are killed in a car accident on the way to their first big gig, but they’re able to return to earth to perform a special concert.
Portraying the Plaids at Saint Vincent are Quinn Patrick Shannon (Francis), Cav (Kevin) O’Leary (Sparky), Robert Farruggia (Jinx) and Brandon Schraml (Smudge)
Brandt says that like the “Plaid” characters, the four actors performing the roles each brings something special to the show.
“Yes, they’re each very talented, but it takes a very special person to convey that ‘Plaid’ style and persona to our audience,” he says. “They’re each very special storytellers from that iconic era. Each of the actors has performed their roles prior to coming here, but never together in the same production.”
Shannon says the reason the show is so popular is because the four guys are so relatable.
“Even younger audiences who don’t understand the time period and the style of music the show is commenting on will get to know these characters and fall in love with them,” he says.
He played the role of Frankie twice before, at Mountain Playhouse and in “Plaid Tidings” at Pittsburgh CLO, both directed by Guy Stroman, who originated the role.
“I have always been in love with this show, and will jump on any opportunity to perform it before I get too old!” he says.
Farruggia previously performed his role of Jinx at the Bickford Theatre in New Jersey and says he jumped at the chance to audition for the musical again. This will be his first performance at Saint Vincent.
Fun for all ages
“I think for the Baby Boomer generation, there is definitely a nostalgia factor involved – but when I last performed the show, my millennial friends were laughing just as hard as the older audience members,” he says. “The show doesn’t try to appeal to any particular group, but rather presents four interesting and lovable characters that you can’t help but fall in love with.”
Schraml has performed in “Plaid” shows at theaters in Georgia and Wisconsin and says he loves the music and the message of “Forever Plaid.”
“The music is simultaneously beautiful and timeless. Whether it’s a walk down memory lane or you’re hearing these classic songs for the first time, you will certainly be wowed by the barber shop vocal arrangements. Add in the humor and loveable characters and you’ve got a hit,” he says.
The theater will continue to offer its after-show Cabaret this season, with Saint Vincent students serving snacks, hot dogs and beverages and providing entertainment. Cast members also attend to socialize with guests. The Cabaret follows all performances except Thursday preview shows and matinees. Cabarets are free, but donations are encouraged.
The 30th annual Saint Vincent Summer Theatre Gala will be June 28, featuring gourmet food and a chance to see the current production. All proceeds benefit the theater. For details, call 724-805-2901.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.