Forever Plaid: The Plug

Ken AshfordLocal Interest, Theatre1 Comment

From the Winston-Salem Journal:

2003_plaid Tried and true colors – Nostalgia for a simpler time keeps crooners coming back for just one more performance

Published: February 7, 2010

They've done it before. Audiences loved it, so Theatre Alliance will reprise one of its hit shows as a Valentine offering.

Forever Plaid, a musical with tried-and-true sentiments to match the holiday, will open Friday night.

Remembering the best of the '50s croon tunes is a good bet. Think of all those PBS specials with Doo-Wop groups. This show taps a similar nostalgia for folks who lived through the '50s, and it probably won't sound bad for younger generations who might be wishing that love were as simple as it sounds in such long-ago ballads as "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing" and "No, Not Much."

This kind of simple, secure and silky notion of love is what makes the show so popular. Theatre Alliance first presented it in 2001, and, in 2008, the company presented a Christmas version called Plaid Tidings.

Some of the original stars from these earlier shows return for Forever Plaid.

In a four-man cast — the show is about a croon quartet from the '50s called The Plaids — Neil Shepherd will repeat his performance as "Jinx." Jay Smith, who plays "Sparky," will repeat his role. The other quartet members are Jamie Lawson, Theatre Alliance's artistic director as "Smudge," and Gray Smith, a favorite with audiences, as "Frankie."

Essentially, you have four young men who were on their way to put on what they considered their best show ever when they were hit by a bus carrying young girls to see The Ed Sullivan Show — on the same night that the Beatles made their American television debut. The guys die, and as magical things are wont to happen out in the cosmos (or a writer's imagination), they return to earth to stage that show, which would have been the highlight of their career.

Naturally, audiences will hear hits from the era including those from groups like The Four Tops, The Four Aces, plus many Perry Como favorites.

"At the time, Perry Como was the epitome of the crooner type of music," Smith said. Throw in other favorites such as "Three Coins in a Fountain," "Rags to Riches," even "Sixteen Tons," and the hits just keep on coming.

"The heart of the show is the group's love of music and wanting to pass it on," Shepherd said.

According to Smith, "It's just great music. It's very touching. Each singer gets to tell something about their life — a special, magic moment.… It's the boys' love of music that makes the audience fall in love with the music."

"That era has always been looked on as the ideal," Shepherd said, "the nice, families-sit-down-together-for-meals, and watching The Ed Sullivan Show on Sundays, 8 p.m., CBS."

If the performers were from today's era, a Michael Buble or Harry Connick Jr. would be crooning the songs.

But for this show, it's The Plaids doing the singing and laughter, a love of music and their own lovable personalities that might just make Forever Plaid a hit worth bringing back.

Theatre Alliance presents
Forever Plaid
at 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Feb. 18-20 and 25-27; at 4 p.m. on Feb. 27; and at 2 p.m. next Sunday and Feb. 21 and 28. For tickets bought before Feb. 12, $1 of each advance ticket sale will go to the Red Cross for Haiti Relief. Tickets are $16, $14 for students and seniors. The theater is at 1047 Northwest Blvd. Call 800-838-3006.