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BWW Review: FOREVER PLAID Musically Encourages Everyone to Follow Their Dream

FOREVER PLAID by Stuart Ross is a musical that lends itself to offering audiences a goofy, charming musical escape, and is considered one of the most popular and successful off-Broadway musicals in history. Having never before seen a production of it, I have always been curious why those who have either been in a production or seen the show are such outspoken fans of it. Those involved with the show speak of the "brotherhood of Plaid" that exists between those who have performed or directed the show previously, with the understanding that if called upon at any time to take part in a production of the musical, it would be a crime to not jump in and make the show an audience favorite. So when I was invited to the current production at the International City Theatre in Long Beach, I jumped at the chance to see what all the fuss is about.

The story centers on four young singers killed in a car crash who find themselves miraculously revived from the dead. Since the accident happened while on the way to their first-ever big concert, they're thrilled that they get to fulfill their dream and perform the show after all to ensure they can make it into heaven - even though it's more than 50 years later and they have not performed together since. Co-directed by former "Plaids" Scott Dreier and Kurtis Simmons with musical direction by Bill Wolfe, this ICT revival stars Jackson Hinden as Sparky, Travis Leland as Frankie, Robert Petrarca as Smudge and Nick Tubbs as Jinx. Singing in close harmony, squabbling over the smallest intonations and executing their choreography with gentle comedic abandon, the four Plaids kept everyone smiling and humming along to some of the great pop hits of the '50s and '60s, with the crowd-pleasing score consisting of unforgettable classics including "Three Coins in the Fountain," "Catch a Falling Star," "Chain Gang," "Cry," "Heart and Soul," "Rags to Riches," "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing" and many more. The wonderful 90-minute production passes by at an incredible pace with more props being brought on and off stage than you could possibly imagine. Kudos go out to Stage Manager Molly McGraw and Assistant Stage Manager Sabrina Bordeaux for their attention to detail in making prop changes appear seamlessly. This is especially true during a 3:11 salute to the Ed Sullivan Show during which the Plaids portray every successful, well-known act to have appeared on the show. Roars of laughter accompanied each of the acts, many of which are still so familiar to the somewhat older Sunday afternoon matinee crowd. But be assured the show appeals to all ages, being a story about dreams living on even after you're dead. The most important thing is that you have the dream and strive to attain it. The ICT revival is based on the original staging. "I was taught the show by Stuart Ross, and we have stayed true to his vision," explains Dreier, who was directed by Ross for the official San Diego company where he played Smudge for 2-1/2 years. "I've seen the play done numerous times in all kinds of ways. It always works, but I think it works best when it's done the way it was intended - no gimmicks, no broad comedy, nothing over the top. Just getting back to a simpler time." He and his energetic cast are to be commended for creating 90 minutes of pure, non-stop entertainment!

Kudos to the entire creative team including set designer Christopher Scott Murillo, lighting designer Stacy McKenney, costume designer Kim DeShazo, sound designer Dave Mickey, props designers Patty and Gordon Briles and hair and wigs designer Anthony Gagliardi. All their efforts combine magically and will draw you into the fantasy of the tale being presented.

And I can honestly say I now understand the overwhelming love for this show centering on four young men who miraculously get a second chance to fulfill the dream of their youth. If only that were possible for the rest of us!

FOREVER PLAID runs through March 5, 2017 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $47 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $49 on Saturdays and Sundays. So put on your Plaid and get over to the International City Theatre at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 330 East Seaside Way in Long Beach, CA 90802, for one of the last four performances this week. For reservations and information, call 562-436-4610 or go to InternationalCityTheatre.org.

Photo credit: Tracey Roman



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From This Author Shari Barrett