We’re going to be as fair as we can here: “Forever Plaid,” with its catalog of great late-’50s pop songs and witty banter, has potential to be a very entertaining show.
In fact, most of us who have seen Utah’s second-favorite (after “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”) show have seen it done well.
Which is why I’m giving SCERA the benefit of the doubt and assuming its production, which opened a week ago, will get better as it goes.
Saturday’s performance was, to put it bluntly, rather bad. Most of the choreography was off. One of the four singers frequently didn’t know the words, and that syndrome periodically afflicted the entire group.
There was no bass player Saturday night, either, which hurt the musical accompaniment considerably. I’m told there normally is one — but darned if I could find any mention of him in the program, whoever he is. (The pianist/musical director, Jeremy Showgren, is named.)
Those are the things that will almost certainly improve with time. Since the show is running nearly every night of the week, one assumes that by the time you get there (if you go), they’ll have had enough practice to be more sharp and polished.
But even putting those temporary faults aside, the show has problems.
Since the songs are nothing new — “Love is a Many Splendored Thing,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Heart and Soul,” etc. — the show lives and dies by the personality of the four actors who play the Plaids. (They’re a fictional early-’60s harmony group that has come back from the Great Beyond to do the big show they never got to do in life.)
Unfortunately, there is little characterization in the SCERA production, directed by Robinne Booth. Some are better actors than others, but not one seems committed to making his character stand apart from the other three.
All four performers — Mark Pulham, Jonathan Flick, David Whitlock and Tony Cobb — are excellent singers. In its current condition, the show is a good enough nostalgia concert. It needs more personality and zip, though, to make it any better than the other “Forever Plaid” productions the Valley has already seen.
With no bass player at the show and none listed in the program, either, I made the (I think) rather understandable conclusion that this production simply didn't have one. That's what I said in the first version of this review, which was posted on the Herald's Web site two days after I saw the show. The fact that I was mistaken was brought to my attention, and the version here is the one that appeared in the newspaper a few days later.