I’ve seen “Forever Plaid” what, maybe a thousand times now, and darned if the production at Thanksgiving Point isn’t just about the most charming.
In case you haven’t seen Utah’s second-most often produced play (after “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”), here’s the deal: In 1964, a fictitious up-and-coming male harmony group called The Plaids were killed in a car accident. Now, 36 years later, they are allowed to come back from the other side to do the one big concert they never got to do in life. “Forever Plaid” is that concert, and we are the lucky audience.
They sing the songs they knew then, of course — a couple dozen pop hits from the ’50s and early ’60s. (Contrary to what the program says, “Forever Plaid” did NOT “make famous the songs ‘Three Coins in the Fountain,’ ‘Moments to Remember’ and ‘Catch a Falling Star.'” Those songs, like all the songs in this show, existed long before “Forever Plaid” debuted off-Broadway in 1989.)
The four guys are Jinx (Josh Meurer), who gets nosebleeds on the high notes; Smudge (Erik Christensen), a nervous, bespectacled fellow who keeps getting “left” and “right” mixed up; Frankie (Benjamin Mason), the most confident of the four; and Sparky (Derek T. Call), the goofy, rosy-cheeked clown.
It is Sparky who develops the most personality; the other three, while extremely charismatic, only hint at their individual character traits. Besides, the music does most of the talking anyway.
The humor is in 1) Sparky’s horsing around, 2) the fact that it’s been 34 years and sometimes they forget the dance steps or come in too early on a song, and 3) the eternal truth that four guys dressed in dinner jackets moving in unison is automatically funny. (It really is: The choreography, which Call and KT Riggs adapted from a production Call was in at Hale Center Theater Orem two years ago, is often very funny, and the fact that all four guys are making the same silly hand motions at once just makes it funnier.)
The singing and harmonies are superb, and the banter with the audience between songs is generally enjoyable. Even if you’re too young to feel nostalgia for songs like “Cry” and “Heart and Soul,” it’s hard not to be entertained by a zippy little show like this.
I was quite amused by the program's assertion that this show "helped make famous the songs 'Three Coins in the Fountain,' 'Moments to Remember' and 'Catch a Falling Star.'" If the program had included the actual copyright information for each song -- like it's supposed to -- it would have been apparent to whoever was doing it that these songs existed long before "Forever Plaid" did. Know your show's history before you produce it, that's what I say. (Or at least be "with it" enough to recognize an old song when you hear one.)