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The Arts in Montreal


By: Stuart Nulman – mtltimes.ca

Fresh on the heels of the tremendous success of their previous production “Les Belles Soeurs”, the Segal Centre for Performing Arts has scored another hit for its 2014-2015 season with the Off-Broadway sensation “Forever Plaid”.

A sort-of doo-wop/a cappella version of “Brigadoon”, the show focuses on a vocal quarter called “Forever Plaid” who one fateful night in early February of 1964, are killed in a car accident on the way to a gig somewhere in eastern Pennsylvania, when their car hits a school bus filled with Catholic school girls that is on its way to New York City to catch the Beatles make their historical appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Now, more than 50 years later, Jinx, Frankie, Smudge and Sparky return to Earth from music heaven to play that gig that they never got to play … complete with white dinner jackets, plaid bow ties and two-tone shoes. They may be a little nervous (and maybe a little rusty) after this 50-year wait, but Forever Plaid shows they still have those vocal chops for one last time onstage.


“Forever Plaid” is a highly entertaining mix of golden oldies music, comedy and nostalgia, as the four performers who make up the quartet (Chris Barillaro, Gab Desmond, Michael Daniel Murphy and Jonathan Patterson) has shown exceptional talents as singers and actors, from displaying onstage “show-must-go-on” confidence, natural stage fright, quirks like frequent nosebleeds and hyperventilating, and singing an impressive repertoire of 19 classic oldies from the late 50s and early 60s like “Three Coins in the Fountain”, “Sixteen Tons”, “Lady of Spain” and “Love is A Many Splendoured Thing”. And their routine of condensing a typical Ed Sullivan Show broadcast in 3 ½ minutes (Topo Gigio included) is a definite showstopper.

So if you want an entertaining night at the theatre where it’s more like a trip inside a malt shop jukebox (circa 1964), don’t miss “Forever Plaid”, which is playing at the Segal Centre until February 22.

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And while we’re on the subject of golden oldies, tonight (February 14) is your last chance to catch the 18th annual Roots of Rock and Roll Concert at the Oscar Peterson Hall, 7141 Sherbrooke Street West, at 8 p.m. Led by Montreal musician and ethnomusicologist Craig Morrison, this year’s concert will pay tribute to the music that emanated from New York City, from Ray Charles and the Drifters, to George Gershwin, to the Shirelles, to Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel. Also joining Morrison onstage for the concert are retro party band Vintage Wine, Terry Joe “Banjo” Rodrigues, Scott Kinglsey, Angela Galuppo and Samantha Borgal, plus many more onstage musical guests. Tickets are $30, $25 for seniors and $18 for students, and can be purchased by calling (514) 848-4848.

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Imagine a Baroque era opera done with an Elvis twist to it. That’s what audiences will be experiencing when they catch a performance of the Opera de Camera’s latest production, which is Handel’s 1738 opera “Xerxes”, which plays at the Rialto Theatre, 5723 Avenue du Parc, for four performances on February 19, 21 and 28, and March 1.

The story of this opera centres around an ancient Persian king named Xerxes, who is engaged to a princess, but is actually in love with the woman who loves his brother. However, Opera de Camera’s production does not take place in ancient Persia; instead, it shifts its locale to a female drag bar somewhere in Montreal, and the king is actually the bar’s owner who is a drag king and likes to dress as Elvis Presley. And as way to attract people to the show, the Opera de Camera has initiated the following incentives: a Baroque/Elvis themed photo booth for audience members to take a souvenir picture at before each performance, a Baroque/Elvis/drag-themed costume contest every evening, and pre-opera talk session on March 1 at 1:45 p.m.

Tickets for “Xerxes” are $49, $34 and $20, and can be purchased by calling (514) 770-7773 or (514) 790-1111/

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If you have an event that you want publicized in the Grapevine, please send the information to my attention at bookbanter@hotmail.com.


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