By Joanna Brady
Forever Plaid was a musical phenomenon when it first appeared in New York in 1989. Stuart Ross wrote the music and lyrics, and created the original concept and choreography. Now a classic, it’s a spoof on the era when the hit parade was dominated by groups of four young men wearing jackets and ties, like the Four Aces, the Four Freshmen, the Crew Cuts, et al. Lyrics rhymed, (albeit with doo-waps thrown in), euphemisms were used to refer to sex, you could hum the tunes, nobody recited rap or broke guitars on stage, and appearing on the Ed Sullivan show meant you were heading for fame and fortune.
For young people who weren’t around during that golden age of innocence, the play is funny, happy, and entertaining. For their parents, it’s more than that. The over sixties crowd will have total recall of the words because the songs evoke memories they like to re-live. Memories of ‘special’ songs, a long-forgotten ‘special’ person, a particular dance, a drive-in, all the trappings of the young lovelorn.
This production is particularly good. The plot is simple. The foursome are dead, having had a car accident fifty years ago. In heaven, they’ve been given a limited time to return to earth to finish the concert they’d been rehearsing before the collision.
And what a concert it is. The talented four singers all turn in excellent performances. Matthew Kennedy (Jinx) who sings “Cry” beautifully, Jeremy Zoma (Frances) Marc Crow (Sparky), and J.B. McLendon (Smudge) who does a great job on “Sixteen Tons”. There’s plenty of high-jinks, and each sings a solo or two; there are a couple of duets, but usually they collaborate as a group. Their songs include: “Three Coins in the Fountain“; “Undecided“; “Gotta Be This or That”; “Moments to Remember“; “Crazy ‘Bout Ya, Baby”; “No, Not Much“; “Sixteen Tons“; “Chain Gang“; “Perfidia“; “Cry“; “Scotland the Brave“; “Shangri-La“; “Rags to Riches“; “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing” and other hits.
They solicit audience participation with “Matilda” and an obliging volunteer from the audience helped them with “Heart and Soul.” There are tributes to Perry Como, the Beatles, and Calypso. But it’s their “Lady of Spain” number that brings down the house, a manic spoof of the many acts on the Ed Sullivan Show—all at once!
Michael Boyer’s set of an airport interior is simple, but effective. Michael Fauss (on keyboards) is, as always, excellent as Musical Director. And Cameron Murray had the daunting task of directing.
See this play when you need a ‘feel-good’ night out. From the minute the four singers in Forever Plaid appear on stage, a smile will steal over your face, and stay there until the last number. The play runs from May 11-27. For tickets: WaterfrontPlayhouse.org or call 305 294-5015.
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