Mark Clements, artistic director of the Milwaukee Rep, has a great big wheelhouse.
We all know what a wheelhouse is. In baseball, it’s the pitch in the perfect place for the batter. In life, it’s a place or something where you have a wonderful advantage and where you are very comfortable.
Clements has a huge wheelhouse. He can stage a play as serious as "The Diary of Anne Frank," and as musically and technologically adventurous as "Ragtime."
And he has hit his stride in the intimate setting of the Stackner Cabaret.
No further evidence is needed than to let the smooth joy of "Forever Plaid" wash over you. The trip down memory lane opened Sunday night and will run through the end of December.
In the last two seasons, Clements has staged some of the most exciting musical theater ever seen in Milwaukee at the Stackner.
Last season, he hit home runs with "Gutenberg! The Musical," "Blues in the Night" and the breathtaking "Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash."
With "Forever Plaid," he has grabbed hold of a play that has been around for over two decades. It’s been performed everywhere from Off-Broadway to Off-Podunk, USA with every city and college in between.
Most often the show plays almost more like a concert. The story of a four-boy harmony group that was killed and then comes back to earth serves as a shell around some timeless songs.
Director JC Clementz (we may overdose on people with that last name, no matter how they spell it) has decided to infuse this play and story with much more humor than you normally see in productions.
Make no mistake about it. This play is very, very funny. The number that capsulized the Ed Sullivan show in just over three minutes is about as humorous as it gets. The audience roared.
But this show is about the music and the tight harmonies. Adam Estes, Anand Nagraj, Nate Lewellyn, who was born in Milwaukee and our own resident man for all seasons, Paul Helm, blend like they’ve been doing this for years rather than ju…Read more...