News Column

Group gets second chance at success in Decatur Underground Theater's 'Forever Plaid'

October 11, 2013


Oct. 11--DECATUR -- The sad reality of just about any sphere of performance is that most artists will never have a chance to achieve the full extent of their dreams. For some, success just never comes, and for others it is snatched away, sometimes violently.

For fictitious "guy group" The Plaids in the Off Broadway musical revue "Forever Plaid," it's the latter, when they are run off the road by a bus full of Beatles fans. But unlike so many other groups, The Plaids get a single shot at redemption.

"Through some cosmic imbalance, they are allowed to come back from the dead for a bit of unfinished business," said Brad Barding, who directs and stars in Decatur Underground Theater's rendition of "Forever Plaid" premiering Friday, Oct. 11 at Decatur's Masonic Temple. "They were never truly going to be successful in life, but they wanted to fulfill a dream. They get a chance to at least touch that dream here, which is all anyone really needs."

The Plaids are a classic pop music quartet in the style of The Four Aces, who harmonize and croon their way through numerous pop standards. Barding initially saw the show years ago after its 1990 Off Broadway premiere in New York, and the thought of eventually putting on his own version stuck with him.

"My buddy gave me the soundtrack first because I'm into close harmony music, and it's always been in the back of my head ever since," he said. "It's easy for me to say that the music is the thing that grabbed me, but I also love the story. It's told with humor, love and tragedy. It's the whole shebang."

The music selections, meanwhile, are all covers of classic 1950s-era pop standards, some well-known and others more obscure. The Plaids perform them all with sincerity, while also maintaining a certain sense of humor about their somewhat dated and cheesy appearances.

"They put their spin on a lot of great songs, with a good number I had honestly never heard before," Barding said. "The whole plaid thing is their shtick and they're in on the joke. Everything they do is plaid somehow. It's a great show for the baby boomer generation who grew up with this music and culture."

Josh Waddell has been a regular performer in Decatur Underground Theater shows and plays the role of "Jinx" in "Forever Plaid." He said he particularly appreciated the sincerity with which the group respects their music and their thankfulness for a second chance to perform.

"I've really come to like the closeness and friendship of the group," he said. "They do what they do for fun and out of love, not a quest for fame."

With this show, Decatur Underground Theater continues to settle into a regular performance schedule at the Masonic Temple after previously being hosted at the Lincoln Square Theatre. Barding said this show represents the unofficial end of the season, although another concert show will be hosted at the Decatur Club on Nov. 9. The group will then get to work on planning another season to be hosted at the Masonic Temple for 2014.

"We're hoping to keep going strong with two or three shows per season," Barding said. "As of right now, we see Masonic as a home, they've been very good to us."|(217) 421-7973


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