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Thursday, April 15, 2004 02:45 pm

Backstage Pass 4-15-04

Forever Plaid

Forever Plaid, the tuneful show that was an off-Broadway hit in 1990 and has played here several times, is back for two weeks at the Springfield Center for the Arts. The Gordon Productions show, which runs April 16-18 and April 22-25, is the same production that was seen at New Salem and Springfield Theatre Centre. Once again, Greg Floyd, Gus Gordon, Ed MacMurdo, and Steve Williams are cast as members of an early '60s singing group who die en route to their big-break concert. When they do get a chance to perform again, it's in heaven. That's about it for the plot, but the plot is not important in a show like this. The songs make the show and this one is basically non-stop singing by four guys who know what they're doing. And they do it very well.

A lighthearted tribute to the "guy groups" of the late '50s-early '60s, Forever Plaid offers up great laughs, including my favorite, a tribute to Ed Sullivan, the popular host of the long-running variety show on CBS. The long list of songs includes "Heart and Soul," "Sixteen Tons," "Cry," and "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing." The cast performs those close harmonies perfectly. (For tickets, call 523-2787.)

Among other noteworthy shows:

• Hay Fever continues at Studio Theatre at UIS through the weekend (April 15-18). Noel Coward wrote a long list of hit plays including Private Lives and Blithe Spirit, and his 1925 Hay Fever is a humorous look at an eccentric, flamboyant family (father is a novelist, mother is a retired actress). It takes place during a weekend in the country in which anything can (and does) happen. Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson directs the cast of university students and local community actors. (For tickets, call 206-6738.)

• At Jacksonville Theatre Guild, Eric Thomas directs See How They Run, an unabashed farce set in a 1947 vicarage in England. The show runs April 16-18 and April 23-25. (For tickets, call 245-1402.)

• At Lincoln Land Community College, Ron Seney directs readings of two very strong plays: David Mamet's No One Will Be Immune and Neil Labute's BASH. Both are powerful scripts and geared for adult audiences. The performances, which take place on the college's main campus in Building A, start at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 23-24.

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