Four adorable, talented crooners come back from the dead to perform one last signature set of classic tunes in "Forever Plaid," the delightful, funny and heartwarming musical now showing at Ocean State Theatre Company’s Theatre by the Sea.
As the story goes, The Plaids, based on the great four-man singing groups of the ’50s and ’60s, met their doomed fate more than 50 years ago when a busload of Catholic schoolgirls crashed into their car en route to a performance that might have been their big break.
The members of the quartet -- Frankie (Mike Backes), Sparky (Adolpho Blaire), Smudge (Max Pallman), and Jinx (Jeffrey Scott Stevens) -- first appear on stage clad in matching outfits, completely unaware of their surroundings, and even less certain of where they’re headed next. Recognizing this moment as an opportunity to perform, in seemingly no time they break into a remarkably entertaining, nostalgic 90-minute concert chock full of style, charm and humor.
Samples from their show-stopping set include Tony Bennett’s "Rags to Riches," Sam Cooke’s "Chain Gang," Perry Como’s "Catch a Falling Star," "Day-O" from Harry Belafonte and even The Beatles’ "She Loves You." Their tribute to "The Ed Sullivan Show," backed by Como’s "Papa Loves Mambo," is just one of many highlights from the production.
Scott Guthrie’s direction and choreography are superb, further complemented by the chemistry and talent of his cast. Backes exudes confidence as group leader Frankie, yet humbly shares the spotlight with his three counterparts. Stevens is magnificent as the nosebleed-prone, shy Jinx, and Blaire is equally pleasant as his quirky half-brother, Adolpho. Last but not least, Pallman shows versatility and precision as Smudge, the most quintessential showman of the bunch.
Orchestra members John C. Brown, whose deadpan disposition is laugh-out-loud funny, and Brian Grochowski deserve special mention for never missing a beat.
"Forever Plaid" is heartfelt, family friendly fare and the perfect kickoff for Theatre by the Sea’s 2012 season that invites its audience to sing along (in some cases, even join them on stage) and revisit pop hits of yesteryear.