MATUNUCK - The 2012 Summer Season at Theatre By The Sea officially began last Friday night with Forever Plaid, a production that will certainly appeal to the musical tastes of those who came of age in the 1950s. While a bit quirky at times and downright silly at others, those who love harmony-driven â50s classics will absolutely adore Forever Plaid.
It is the concert that was never supposed to be. The four-man harmony group that comprises the whole cast, save for the pianist and bassist backing them up, has been reincarnated 48 years after their tragic deaths, and vows to give the audience in Matunuck the show that they never got to do in life.
Forty-eight years earlier, Frankie, Sparky, Smudge and Jinx, four self-proclaimed nerds who make up the singing group The Plaids, were broad-sided by a bus full of Catholic school girls. The Plaids were en route to their first big gig, while the bus was taking the students to the American debut of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Suddenly, the foursome finds themselves alive again in the present, dressed in their finest clothes, with an audience in front of them, musical accompaniment behind them, and a stage underneath them. No metaphysical of philosophical or scientific explanation is given to how The Plaids managed their journey back to life.
In between catchy â50s tunes like âThree Coins in the Fountain,â and âGotta be This or That,â the plot line of Forever Plaid is connected by a series of goofy jokes and funny situations. The play does not take itself too seriously, which is a good thing considering the ridiculous premise.
However, intricate story twists and the tying together of loose ends have no bearing on the lasting effect of Forever Plaid. All that maters in this one are the songs, and they are relentless, one after another. Twenty-nine songs in total are sung, some not in their entirety and others not in their original arrangement. The one thing they all have in common is the same familiar four harmonizing voices.
Mike Backes (Frankie), Adolpho Blaire (Sparky), Max Pallman (Smudge) and Jeffrey Scott Stevens (Jinx) join forces to create an authentic harmony group that delivers each number with passion and excitement. The members of the group feed off each otherâs energy, and each gets his own moment in the spotlight at some point during the play.
The four characters, whom Director Scott Guthrie described as âlovable losers,â each also have a personality trait or two that assists in the reach for a few laughs between songs. Whether it is constantly-bloody noses, or the inability to determine left from right, the group has enough quirkiness to keep the plot-less play afloat when the music takes a rest.
There is no brilliant satire or sharp irony here, just a long line of jokes that seem to be tailored for children. In fact, some of the funniest moments of the play are not even spoken - the four singers often misstep while trying to move in synchronized form.
Guthrie said there are two main aspects to Forever Plaid that he loves and feels will attract audiences: the music and the good-natured vibe of the production.
âI really love the honesty of the piece, it is a heartfelt, charming, sweet piece of theatre,â he said. âAnd of course, I love the music.â
That, in a nut shell, is Forever Plaid. Four nice guys you like being around, singing to some half-a-century-old tunes, and doing it very well. While at times you may have to force yourself to chuckle at their on-stage gags, you will not have to force yourself to like them.
It is sugar-coated and lacking of any real drama or intrigue, but if decades-old classics harmonized with a warm and uplifting atmosphere are what you crave, Forever Plaid is the perfect production.
If you go
Forever Plaid will run at Theatre By The Sea through June 17. The Theatre is located at 364 Cards Pond Road in Matunuck. For more information visit www.theatrebythesea.com.