Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Forever Plaid"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"Forever Plaid"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at North Shore Music Theatre is "Forever Plaid". Once upon a time, there were four guys (Sparky, Smudge, Jinx and Frankie) who loved to sing. They all met in high school, when then joined the audiovisual club in 1956. Discovering they shared an affection for music and entertaining, they got together and dreamed of becoming like their idols, The Four Aces, The Four Lads, The Four Freshmen, The Hi-Los and The Crew Cuts. They rehearsed in the basement of Smudge's family's plumbing supply company. It was here they became Forever Plaid, a name that connects the continuation of traditional values of family, home and harmony. Through the powers of harmony and the Expanding Holes in the Ozone Layer, in conjunction with the positions of the planets and all that astrotechnical stuff, they are allowed to come back to perform the show they never got to do in life. They were killed on their way to pick up their Plaid Tuxedos. 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. The boys and their parents watch Ed Sullivan and Perry Como on TV and their songs reflect these values. Director/choreographer Guy Stroman picks four multitalented actors who sing 4 part harmony perfectly while music director Eugene Gwozdz accompanies them on the piano, does some shtick as well as taught them the intricate and complex harmonic sound of the 1950's and 1960's in this tongue in cheek comic look at the past.(Ronald Mahdi plays a mean string bass for this show, too.) It is a splendid production with the youth of today, singing the glorious songs of yesteryear, with their reward being a spontaneous standing ovation at the close of the show .Bravo.

The show opens and closes with two Oscar winning songs, "Three Coins in a Fountain" and "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" and includes other popular up beat numbers and ballads of that era. Other group numbers include "Scotland, the Brave" when they get their plaid jackets and "Shangri.La. Adam Halpin plays Frankie, the spokesman of the group. He has many comic lines and an excellent tenor voice which he shows off in the opening group number, "Crazy About Ya Baby" where the group uses tall plungers as microphones, "Chain Gang", "Matilda" an audience participation number and one of the funniest bits is when he asks a woman in the audience to play the piano for "Heart and Soul". (Jane McCarthy was chosen and she danced and sang with the guys and won some prizes, too.) The high tenor in this show is played by J.D. Daw who plays Jinx who constantly gets nose bleeds. He gets to show off his powerful pipes in "Moments to Remember", "No Not Much", "Kingston Market" and the number he stopped the show with "Cry" which he belts out to the crowd. J.D. also gets to show off his comic side while pretending to play "Lady of Spain" on an accordion while the others do many acts from the Ed Sullivan show. (He holds out the last note of the song for a long time till the others finish all their tricks. Wonderful timing makes this segment spectacular.) Chris Couch is a hoot as Sparky who has many hilarious one liners. He also shows off his topnotch voice in "Gotta Be This or That", "Undecided", "Perfida" and his best number is "Catch A Falling Star'', a tribute to Perry Como. (The group sings "Sing to Me Mr. C" during this segment.) Kevin Vortmann is the powerhouse bass who wears horn rimmed glasses and plays Smudge. He is hilarious in this role and shows off his voice in "Sixteen Tons", "Jamaica Farewell" and his best number is "Rags to Riches" which he belts out to a woman in the audience. Four awesome performers who stop the show with their talent. So for an evening of a trip back to the carefree days of the 1950's with their glorious music, be sure to catch "Forever Plaid" at North Shore Music Theatre before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

"Forever Plaid" (18 September - 7 October)
NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE
62 Dunham Road, BEVERLY MA
1 (978) 232-7200

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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