Hale Centre Theatre West Valley’s production of “Forever Plaid” asks the musical question: How many times have you seen this show already?
If your answer is “once” or “not at all,” then this show is for you. The Hale Centre’s in-the-round stage has been turned into a straight-forward nightclub environment as we listen to The Plaids — a deceased male harmony group from 1964 who get to come back long enough to do one big concert — sing great songs from the ’50s and early ’60s.
Songs like “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Cry” and “Catch a Falling Star” are among the numbers on the agenda, and all four men sing exceptionally well.
If your answer is “I’ve seen it a bunch o’ times,” like many Utahns — only “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” beats it in terms of ubiquitousness — then this production may not do much for you.
While the performers are all great singers, none of them are really actors, and we see very little in the way of personality, which is usually what drives this show. Without ways of telling the characters apart, and sort of getting a feel for who they are, “Forever Plaid” becomes just a nostalgic concert.
Sparky (Bryon Finch) is the only one who stands out, with his goofy, expressive face and general silliness. He’s sometimes too over-the-top — but at least he’s doing something. Frankie (Dan Morgan), ostensibly the leader of the group, blends in somewhat weakly with the other three.
Even Jinx’s (David Weekes; double-cast with Todd C. Russell) break-out-of-his-shell solo in “Cry” fails to do anything more than amaze us with his vocal ability, though he does get a very funny moment later on with his step-brother Sparky as they reminisce about Sunday nights at home.
This is a glittery, slick-looking production, and well worth seeing if it’s your first time. But repeat visitors will realize that all four men are too old to pass for a late-teens/early-20s vocal group, and they’ll be sorry to see so much potential humor lost because too much attention is paid to getting the songs right, leaving characterization undeveloped.
Despite having seen it a million times, I still look forward to this show. This production wore thin, though, for the reasons cited. Great singing, though.