Forever Plaid

Mac-Haydn Theatre, Chatham

How old do you have to be to enjoy this musical revue? The answer may surprise you.

By Andrew Andrews

Music Director Eric Shorey accompanies Kylan Ross, Miles Yokom, John Hannigan and Cody Edwards in Stuart Ross’s Forever Plaid, directed by James Barry. Original photo by Ann Kielbasa.

Sparky, Jinx, Smudge and Frankie were headed for the big time, when their little Mercury was “slammed by a bunch of parochial virgins—” in other words, a bus full of Catholic school girls.

Thanks to “astrotechnical stuff,” the four young men have been floating in limbo since their fatal accident in 1964; now they’ve magically appeared on the Mac-Haydn stage to deliver a farewell performance.

Covering more than a dozen songs from the fifties and a retro rendition of at least one from the early sixties, the four young men who have been frozen in time harmonize, croon and synchronize their steps to earn the plaid tuxedo jackets they always longed to don on stage.

“You guys,” Jinx says, “We never sounded this good in life!”

Personifying clean-cut “guy groups” of the 50s like The Four Aces and The Four Freshmen, Forever Plaid premiered at the West Bank Cafe in 1987 and was eventually released as a motion picture in 2009.

Primarily a musical revue, Forever Plaid has just enough plot to tie together its featured songs into one cohesive unit.

You can almost smell the Brylcreem as the small but talented cast belts out one vocal harmony after another, with choreography that’s as tight and enjoyable as the singing.

Like last year’s Beehive: The ’60s Musical, this production best suits an audience that already knows and loves its songs. Opening with “Three Coins in the Fountain” and closing with “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing,” anyone who came of age in the 1950s is sure to enjoy every moment of this performance.

“We’d like to dedicate this next number to all the seniors,” Smudge appropriately says.

Then he adds, “and the juniors out there, and to anyone who’s ever been to a prom.”

For those of us who grew up in the era of Happy Days and Sha Na Na, plenty of songs are familiar enough to sing along, although younger generations might find the music too obscure to get as much out of the program.

While full of comedic interludes and references to days gone by, the show’s greatest highlight is an amazingly-funny circus parody of The Ed Sullivan Show.

Quoting Frankie’s passionate, accidental outburst, “It was good, dammit!”

Andrew Andrews attended Forever Plaid at Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham on Thursday, September 15, 2022 @ 2:00pm to write this review.