Hello! I am Ken Jones, Music Director and Accompanist for Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings, with a few words about our musical process during the last week and a half.
This show combines music from the original Forever Plaid with some traditional and non-traditional Holiday favorites. The story follows four characters: Jinx (played by Brad Simanksi), Frankie (played by Sean Effinger-Dean), Sparky (played by Robert Deason), and Smudge (played by David Meadows), as they return to Earth again with a mission so secret that even they don’t know what it is. There are two fantastic understudies, Don Denton and Alex Mersman, who are learning two roles each.
We started our process with a full day of learning music, which basically consisted of me playing vocal parts and rehearsing the numbers with accompaniment. Once we got into blocking and choreography rehearsals with our wonderful Director & Choreographer, Bob Kiser, we started adding the stylistic elements to the music: breathing, entrances, cut-offs, accents, dynamics, balance, and diction.
This show is atypical of many Broadway-style shows because the four ‘Plaids’ sing 90% of the show in tight four-part harmony. Most of the chordal structure is not standard major and minor chords, but more complex 6th, 7th, and 9th chords where many vocal parts are sung a step and half step apart, bringing a certain Jazz flavor to these 30′s, 40′s, and 50′s Standards and Holiday songs.
During music rehearsals we have incorporated and worked various other musical instruments into the mix that the actors will play live: hand bells, accordion, bongos, maracas, claves, and hi-hat. There is even a moment where Sparky gets behind the piano and accompanies the men while singing from the keyboard. Very fun!
Another part of rehearsing the music is working with the pit musicians. Similar to the original Plaid, this show only calls for an acoustic upright bass, which will be played by Jamie Martinez. He and I have gotten together on several occasions to rehearse the music before we get in to technical rehearsals to make sure the music is performance ready.
The Director and I couldn’t have put together such a festively fun show without such an amazingly talented group of vocalists/actors, staff, and crew. We hope to see you there!