Northwest NEWS

May 29, 2000

Entertainment

'Forever Plaid' provides lighthearted nostalgia

by Deborah Stone

   The international hit musical comedy Forever Plaid is currently running at Seattle Rep's Leo K. Theatre.

   Written and directed by Stuart Ross, Forever Plaid is the story of The Plaids, a four-part-harmony guy group, whose dreams of stardom were cut short by an unfortunate accident on the night of their first big gig in 1964.

   Sparky (Paul Pement), Smudge (local actor Jeff Church), Jinx (Mark Meyers), and Frankie (local actor Joshua Bott) loved to sing and met in high school after they joined the audiovisual club in 1956. It was a time when four-part guy groups crooned their way across the airwaves, and The Plaids dreamed of becoming like their idols: The Four Freshmen, The Crew Cuts, and The Four Lads.

   They rehearsed in the basement of Smudge's family plumbing supply company and did local gigs at the bowling alley, proms, and supermarket openings. They finally landed their first big gig at the Airport Hilton cocktail bar, The Fusel Lounge.

   On their way to pick up their custom-made plaid tuxedos for the show, their car was slammed broadside by a school bus filled with teens en route to witness The Beatles make their U.S television debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. The Plaids were killed instantly and their careers and lives ended abruptly. Through some sort of miracle, however, these teen angels are allowed to come back to perform the show they never got to do in real life, and it is this moment that the story of Forever Plaid begins.

   The show features such classic pop hits as "Three Coins in the Fountain," "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing," "Catch a Falling Star," "Chain Gang," and "Heart and Soul," all sung in perfect harmony by this group of four talented men.

   Dressed in white tuxes with plaid accessories and backed up by pianist/musical director Jeff Caldwell and bassist Jon P. Miller, the boys transcend themselves from a desperate-to-please group of unprofessionals to a confident, together quartet who smoothly perform fine renditions of all those sweet, forgotten songs. There are hilarious attempts at synchronized choreography, along with some fun physical comedy, and a hysterical three-and-a-half-minute send-up of the entire Ed Sullivan Show, complete with plate spinning, fire eating, and a guy on an accordion.

   Seattle actors Bott and Church are wonderful additions to the two veteran performers, Meyers and Pement. Bott's Frankie croons the melodies as he caresses his microphone, and Church's Smudge is a Buddy Holly type, who sports heavy black framed glasses and has the perfect deep voice to complement the group. In the end, the Plaids get to don the plaid tuxedos they had dreamed of wearing and sing among the bright lights for their moment of fame.

   The show is an evening of lighthearted nostalgia and definitely lives up to its stellar reputation for good, clean entertainment. Forever Plaid runs through June 25th. For ticket information, call 206-443-2222.