High Desert Theatre: Tony Winkle Opens Up About “Forever Plaid”

Tony Winkle plays "Jinx" Photo Courtesy Tony Winkle.

By Nikki Garrett Metzger

Managing Editor

(Victor Valley) –-The dynamic duo of Tom Hannett and Danny Thorn are bringing great family entertainment to the stage once again at the High Desert Center for the Arts with the time honored favorite “Forever Plaid”, set to open February 17th.

More of a revue than a traditional play, “Forever Plaid” tells the story of a male pop quartet that was killed in a car crash on the way to their first professional gig, and has been stuck ever since in some kind of limbo. They return to earth for one night only, in order to give their concert and fulfill their dream, filling the stage with hokey comedy, endearing personal revelations, and tons of gorgeous close-harmony singing.

A show like this relies heavily on the singing of the cast and producer Tom Hannett and director Danny Thorn have assembled a fine collection of voices. The balance and blend between the four voices is excellent and the harmonies are amazing.

The group, The Plaids, is based on all the great four-man groups of the late ’50s and early ’60s like the Lettermen and Four Freshmen, with affectionate tributes to such cultural icons as Ed Sullivan and Perry Como. Forever Plaid is an audience pleaser for most any age group.

As rehearsals are going on, costumes are made, and sets are built, I had the chance to sit down and talk with each of the Plaids.  This is my interview with Tony Winkle who plays “Jinx” in the show:

High Desert Daily: Tell us about your theater background.

Tony: I’ve been on stage as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories was standing on this big raised platform with this dark empty space in front of me, and I knew there people out there because I could hear them. My mom had dressed me up in a little lime green dragon outfit and I sang “Puff the Magic Dragon”. That’s literally one of my earliest memories.

I’ve been in choirs and show choirs all growing up. My first musical like this was my senior year in high school, and I guess I got addicted because I’ve been doing it ever since.  I’ve done over 40 shows.

HDD: Tell us about your character in the show.

Tony: Jinx – he’s the tenor. Like all of the Plaids he’s a little bit nerdy. They are the “audio/visual club in high school” type people. When Jinx hits an “A” he gets a nose bleed, and that’s a problem for a tenor. During the show he kind of overcomes his shyness and his inhibitions and his nose bleeds, finds his place in the group and kind of opens up.

HDD: What characteristic do you identify most with your character?

Tony: Probably being shy at first and then opening up when you’re comfortable with something. That’s very me.

HDD: Was your part easy to learn?

Tony: Well, it’s not learned yet, but the process is going well. On some of the songs, when we sing through them the first time, I get my part just like that. Other times its like, “can you play my part for me again?” It just depends on where it fits in the chords. Sometimes it’s really easy and sometimes I just can’t get it. I just have to pound through it.

HDD: What do you think of the music?

Tony: Oh its fun, I love it!

HDD: Is there anything about this show that is different from other shows you’ve been in previously?

Tony: Each show in its own way is unique. This is the smallest cast I’ve ever been in. It is the first time I’ve ever been in a cast that was all guys. There’s no girls to flirt with backstage. Also…few shows are you in EVERYTHING. This show you’re in EVERYTHING. Most of the time you get a little bit of a break somewhere in the show, this one there’s nothing. Makes costume changes nice – there won’t be any.

HDD: What are you hoping the audience takes away from this show?

Tony: I hope it’s just a good, entertaining, wholesome evening. I don’t think that there’s any big, intense, moral theme to it. It’s just kind of a fun, light show, just a fun evening out. Bring your kids because there’s nothing they can’t see.

HDD: What behind the scenes stuff do you want to share?

Tony: Not unique to this show, but part of the process of going through rehearsals is that there tends to be a lot of goofing off. That’s just kind of the nature of theater I guess because you’re trying out stuff, and some of its silly. It seems like a lot of the goof offs are like, “Oh yeah, keep that! Let’s do that!”

There’s a little snippet of a Southern Baptist revival in one of the numbers, and Sparky came up to me, put his hand on my forehead like “You are healed” and I collapsed because we were goofing off a little bit. Everybody thought it was funny, so now it is part of the show.

Forever Plaid was written and originally directed and choreographed by Stuart Ross. The show opens at the High Desert Center for the Arts on February 17th, with show dates Feb 18th, 20th, 24th, 25th, 27th, and March 2nd and 3rd.

Tickets are available DB Music in Hesperia 760-949-3838. Or e-mail for more information Hannett_Thorn_Productions@yahoo.com.

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