'Forever Plaid,' the movie: From coast to coast
Pink hair, plaid suits, red carpet: That was the scene on Thursday evening outside downtown's Club Nokia as a crowd gathered to watch celebrities arrive for the Forever Plaid 20th Anniversary Special! (Exclamation point courtesy of the show's PR machine, not Culture Monster.)
Don't say we didn't warn you: In a recent post, Culture Monster revealed that, to celebrate the 20th birthday of the ubiquitous "Forever Plaid," a movie version of the musical -- plus a red carpet pre-show and a live stage show with audience sing-along presented after the movie -- would be shown via satellite feed to 500 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, live from Club Nokia.
There were TV and movie celebs -- Carl Reiner, JoAnne Worley, Tippi Hedren, Loretta Devine, to name a few -- and local Web-celebs: pink-haired darling Audrey Kitching, who Culture Monster is told is "an international model and Internet sensation," and Clint Catalyst (in a plaid suit you had to see to believe), also well known on the Web as a writer and the kind of guy who hunts out "cool," then lets Web friends in on the buzz.
But the biggest star in the night's plaid galaxy was Carol Channing, 88, who not only did the red carpet march in a black velvet tux but appeared live with the Plaids after the movie, singing her signature tune "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" ("And I don't mean rhinestones") -- 60 years after introducing the song on Broadway in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."
Suren M. Seron, pictured with Channing, one of the producers of the movie and chief producer of the live show, told Culture Monster that he was sitting in Channing's dressing room backstage when he witnessed the only technical glitch in the simulcast: The Club Nokia audience missed some frames near the end of the movie on the big screen because of a minor power failure that caused problems with the projector.
"Everything across the world went just fine," Seron grumbled good-naturedly the next day. "We've worked for six years getting this project to where it is, and -- on the night of the premiere! And we had a 187-pound projector hanging up there, so we couldn't just go up and swap it out." Luckily, the audience was able to see the show without the occasional blackouts on smaller screens surrounding the big one.
But Seron was in a pretty good mood anyway: Although the final numbers won't be in for several days, Seron said theaters in Denver, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles have reported 75% full or more -- in fact, theaters in Burbank, Century City and some in New York had sold out.
Along with Channing's performance of "Diamonds," viewers also enjoyed the live Plaids in some Plaid-style arrangements of songs from "Cats" and "Sweeney Todd" -- as well as a crazy medley of the 1952 song "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window" and the Baha Men's contemporary dance-it-up tune "Who Let the Dogs Out" (woof, woof, woof, woof, etc.).
Like the plaid suits and the pink hair, that last one had to be seen -- or rather, heard -- to be believed.
-- Diane Haithman
Photos: Top, Carol Channing onstage with the Plaids. Bottom, producer Suren M. Seron -- in plaid -- at a post-party event with Channing. Credit: Matt Lingo.