Stage Door Productions brings back Jinx, Sparky, Frankie and Smudge
What has wigs, an accordion player and a fire-eating man?
The answer to that perhaps strange question is Stage Door Productions’ winter small cast musical “Forever Plaid.”
According to Alyssa Sparks, the director of the play, the show revolves around four young men: Jinx, Sparky, Frankie and Smudge.
The group graduates high school and forms a quartet called Forever Plaid. But before they can make it to their first big gig, they are all killed in a car crash.
“The Catholic school girls were on their way to see The Beatles debut on Ed Sullivan and their bus hit Forever Plaid’s Mercury head on,” Sparks said. “The Catholic school girls were fine but our guys were killed instantly.”
But on Friday and Saturday, the group gets to come back, when they perform at the Fort Museum and Frontier Village Opera House.
“The setting is that they were killed in 1964 and they get to come back for one last show,” Sparks said. “One big show they never got to do while they were here.”
Sparks, who is also in charge of the choreography, said the show is very interactive for the audience.
“It’s hysterical,” she said. “It’s so funny.”
The cast spans multiple generations with each member about 10 years apart. But in the play the guys are supposed to be around the same age.
Roger Netz, 57, plays Smudge. Jason Laird, 47, plays Sparky. Nathan Schelle, 37, plays Frankie. And Dynastacious Collins plays Jinx. Collins is 26. He turns 27 in a few months.
Netz is the man the audience will see eat fire.
How do you find such a person for the fire-eating role?
“It’s a learned skill,” Netz said.
“I think I burned the ChapStick off my lips,” he said in jest during a recent rehearsal.
Netz said he played a different character when he was involved in the same play 20 years ago.
“It’s like surreal (to be doing the play again),” Netz said. “Twenty years ago I was Jinx. I just can’t believe I get a chance to do this musical again.”
He’s looking forward to playing his new part.
“This is a show where you really make a connection with the audience,” Netz said. “And that connection just feeds my soul.”
Laird said playing Sparky, he will have to be the know-it-all of the group.
“He feels like he needs to tell the audience what’s going on,” Laird said. “It’s a great show. It’s entertaining, from young ages to the age of barely getting in the door, everyone will like it. It’s in everyone’s wheel house. It’s entertaining.”
Laird is in his third year participating in the Stage Door Productions musicals.
“Prior to that, it had been 25 years,” Laird said.
But when Laird connected with Shelly Bottorff, president of Stage Door, through Sonshine Singers, he felt the calling to return to the stage.
“It’s tough, everything we are doing and working on, but it’s easy to do with this group,” Laird said. “If people say there isn’t stuff to do in Fort Dodge, they aren’t looking.”
“Forever Plaid” is particularly special for Bottorff, who said she first saw the play with her parents when she was about 9 years old, up in Minneapolis.
Bottorff is the music director for the play.
“From my personal perspective, it was always something I wanted to be part of and given the tools and the talent to do it,” Bottorff said. “My dad in the last two months has experienced major health issues. So for a personal aspect to bring this to production just makes me proud. It’s kind of come full circle.”
It will be the eighth winter musical put on by Stage Door Productions.
Dean Davis is the drummer. Nicholas Schelle is on bass.
Collins, playing Jinx, will have the accordion in hand.
“Jinx is a shy character, which is kind of a stretch for me,” Collins said. “I am the exact opposite. So I play this shy, introverted character and he kind of comes out of his shell.”
Nathan Schelle described his role of Frankie as “kind of the leader of the group.”
“He keeps them all together,” Schelle said.
If you go:
What: Forever Plaid — a musical by Stage Door Productions
Where: Fort Museum and Frontier Village Opera House
When: Friday at 7 p.m., doors open 6:15 p.m.; and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
• Cash bar available
Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for students — available at Hy-Vee, Fort Museum and Frontier Village general store, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org