BWW Review: FOREVER PLAID at Musical Theater Heritage
If you are an audience member with a fondness for popular music and early Rock and Roll history, then FOREVER PLAID is a delightful stroll down memory lane for you. This new production designed at Musical Theater Heritage inside Crown Center is a hoot and one of those "best in kind" experiences.
The "Plaids" are a 1950s era guy's close harmony singing group similar to the Four Freshman or the Ames Brothers. On February 7, 1964, the Plaids are driving on their way to their first big performance job. On their way to the gig, they collide with a bus filled with Catholic school girls and are all killed. The girls were traveling from Pennsylvania to see (of all people) the Beatles at their first Ed Sullivan Show.
Tonight, The Plaids have returned from the dead for this evening only to enjoy one last shot at the musical glory that could have been theirs. The boys follow the arc of popular music following World War II up to the early Beatles. The score includes many of the standards that audiences will remember fondly from earlier days including "Three Coins In The Fountain," Moments to Remember," "Sixteen Tons/Chain Gang," "Catch a Falling Star," "Heart and Soul," and "Love Is A Many Splendored Thing."
FOREVER PLAID is the original juke box musical opening in 1987. It first played off-Broadway, has become a favorite in regional theatres, and paved the way for lots of the Jukebox musicals that followed. I first saw the show as a cabaret offering in Las Vegas in the 1990s. It was a great evening then and remains so twenty-five years later.
The MTH production of FOREVER PLAID features four local performers who would not be outclassed anywhere you might catch this show. They are T. Eric Morris as Frankie the lead, tenor Bob Wearing as Jinx, baritone Phil Newman as Sparky, and Bass Timothy Madden as Smudge. Not only can these guys sing, they are super comedians and pretty good dancers. You might even see them juggle a ball or two or tickle the ivories on the grand piano. Director Mandy Morris, it turns out, is a choreographer by trade and she has done a super job of charting out every movement and every gag. This cast does a great job of carrying through on the jokes. They have managed expertly to create four distinct personalities.
Bassist Joey Panella and Musical Director/Pianist Gary Adams hold up their end of the evening in a very professional level. Scenic Designer Sandra Lopez has created the perfect setting for this particular show.
The writing is clever. The scoring of these familiar songs is very, very good. FOREVER PLAID surpasses many of the jukebox shows that followed it and that continue to run on and off Broadway. You'll find it difficult to leave the theater without a smile on your face and all those earworm songs in your hearts.
FOREVER PLAID continues at MTH Theater inside Crown Center until February 23. Don't miss it if you want a carefree, fun night at the theater. Tickets are available online or by telephone at 816.221.6987.
Photos courtesy of MTH and Larry Levenson