There is a reason why Forever Plaid has been resurrected numerous times since its off-Broadway debut twenty-two years ago. It’s a charming musical review. The four male characters possess quirky yet endearing characteristics. The songs are catchy (and nostalgic for people of a certain age). It can go from lighthearted camp and then become hauntingly and even eerily touching. For the most part, Forever Plaid presented by the Spotlight Theater Company and the Firehouse Theatre Company succeeds in delivering a fun, toe-tapping musical experience.
Forever Plaid is an homage to male quartet groups of the 1950’s. The action starts when four men descend to the stage and explain that they are The Plaid. They have returned to the world after their untimely demise some forty years ago. It seems that the car they were driving to a gig was t-boned by a bus of Catholic schoolgirls. So, they have returned, “like Lazarus,” to our earthly plane to put on the show they never had the chance to give.
The songs range from lighthearted beat-bopping rhythms of “Crazy ‘Bout, Ya Baby” and “Heart and Soul” to the romantic crooning of standards like “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing”.
Under the Musical Direction of Timothy Kennedy, the numbers are solid in harmonious delivery. He also plays the part of Francis, a high-spirited motivator of the Plaid.
Paul Jaquith is energetic and fearless as Sparky. Ken Paul portrays Smudge, the bass behind the song “Sixteen Tons”. At the tenor end of the Plaid’s vocal spectrum is Adam Shelton as Jinx. Shelton is as appealing for his melodic stylings as he is likable for his playful naiveté.
Each member of the Plaid has a delightful and earnest breeziness. The heights of this musical review lie within the bond of its four characters. After all, they have experienced life and death together. They are a tight-knit cadre and this show finds its momentum when the Plaid bro-code is celebrated in song.
Director Pat Payne has done a very fine job of staging this production that the nearly packed house seemed to love. Trent Hines playing the piano upstage gives his own performance that endeared him to the audience.
This collaboration by the Firehouse Theatre Company and Spotlight Theatre Company caught me by surprise. As I walked into the theater I was a bit shocked by all the people in the audience. People know a good thing when they see it, and I have a hunch they will be back for more.
Forever Plaid plays through May 13th at The John Hand Theater.
(Editor's Note: Forever Plaid is now a movie available online.)