The current show at Mill River Dinner Theater is "Forever Plaid". It is the story of a four part guy harmony group (Sparky, Smudge, Jinx and Frankie) that was killed on their way to pick up their plaid tuxedoes in the 1950's. They are allowed to come back to earth to perform the show they never were able to perform in the past. The guys met in high school when they joined the Audio Visual Club. They rehearsed in the basement of Smudge's family plumbing supply company. It was here they became Forever Plaid, a name that connotes the continuation of traditional values, of family, home and harmony. They supported their dreams with day jobs during the week, Frankie in dental supplies, Jinx in auto parts, Smudge in bathroom fixtures and Sparky in better dresses. They devoted themselves to their singing at nights and on weekends. The boys and their parents watched Ed Sullivan and Perry Como on TV and their songs reflect these family values.
Director Chuck PetitBon picks four talented young men who sing 4 part harmony beautifully while Dan Zabinski teaches them the intricate and complex harmonic sound of the 50's and 60's in this tongue in cheek comic look back at the past. It is a feel good evening of dinnertainment, filling you with the glow of yesteryear with the lovely music and the talented youth of today presenting it to an appreciative crowd.
The show opens and closes with 2 Academy award winning songs, "Three Coins in a Fountain" and "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" and includes many other popular up beat numbers and ballads of that era. Other group numbers include "Scotland the Brave" (which is when they get their plaid jackets) and "Shangri-La".
Paul Morin, recent graduate of Rhode Island College and currently a voice and music teacher, plays Frankie, the groups spokesman. He has an excellent tenor voice which he shows off in the opening number, "Crazy "Bout Ya Baby" ( where the group uses tall plungers as mics), "Chain Gang", "Matilda, Matilda" ( an audience participation song) as well as "Heart and Soul" where Sheila, a lady in the audience played the piano and won prizes. Paul's experience shines through on stage as the veteran of this young group.
The other tenor in the show is Caleb Jacobson, a freshman at RIC who plays Jinx. This young man gets to show off his powerful pipes on "Moments to Remember", "No Not Much", "Kingston Market" and one of his best numbers "Cry" which he belts out to the ladies in the audience. Caleb's voice soars off the scale in his tenor range but he also gets to do a comic bit with "Lady of Spain" where the rest of the cast imitates acts from the Ed Sullivan show while he pretends to play an accordion. (He also holds out the final note of the song for quite a long time.)
The youngest member of this cast is Tim Zabinski as Sparky, who is only a sophomore at Mount St. Charles high school. He gets to do a lot of one liners as the comic member of the group. Tim gets to sing lead in "Gotta Be This of That", "Undecided", "Perfidia" and his best number "Catch a Falling Star" a tribute to Perry Como.
The bass singer in this show is Lydel Hall who is a sophomore at RIC and makes his stage debut acting as Smudge. He shows off his powerful voice in "Sixteen Tons" where he sings it like "Old Man River" from "Showboat", "Jamaica Farewell" with Tim and his other wonderful solo, "Rags to Riches".
Bravo to these four talented performers for doing such difficult work on these songs and doing them very well. A word of praise to Marcia PetitBon for the many different hats and props and for making some ordinary plaid jackets into stunning tux jackets.
Chuck not only directs the show but cooks the fabulous meal before it. There is all you can eat chicken vegetable soup, rolls and butter, stringbeans and carrots and oven baked sweet and regular potatoes with Italian seasonings that melt in your mouth. I sampled the new entree, a stuffed chicken breast with brown gravy that was scrumptious as was the apple turnover with custard sauce. Stage manager Doug Cameron keeps things running smoothly all night long. So for an evening of fun dining and a trip back to the 1950's, be sure to catch "Forever Plaid" at Mill River Dinner Theater.