Riverside Center Dinner Theater presents Forever Plaid, written and choreographed by Stuart Ross, with musical arrangements by James Raitt. Bobby Smith directs this fun-filled 1950’s musical revue alongside Musical Director Joel DeCandio. Light and peppy, and with a playful plot to weave the songs together, Forever Plaid may be the jump-start into Spring that you are looking for!
Scenic Coordinator Matthew P. Westcott keeps the stage simple, with nothing but four microphone stands next to the live musicians; Joel DeCandio on the piano and Joanna Smith on bass. Lighting Designer Joseph Wallen uses a variety of effects, including spotlighting and refracting light all over the theatre from a revolving disco ball, which is dazzling. Technical Director Phil Carlucci uses projections as backdrops (my favorite being a massive full moon), and Costume Coordinator Gaye Law dresses the young quartet in fine white dinner jackets (with some fun surprises along the way!).
The plotline for Forever Plaid is a goofy one; four talented young singers from the 1950s were tragically killed en route to their first “big show,” and they have been posthumously revived here in 2014 so that they may have a second chance to give the performance of their (after) lives! The stakes are high, because if they complete their mission of “perfect harmony,” then they will finally be able to leave limbo and rest peacefully. However, it has been a long time, and the poor amateur singers are complete nervous wrecks. Frankie (Austin Colby), Smudge (Brandon Duncan), Sparky (David Landstrom), and Jinx (Chris Rudy) are off to a rocky start– while it’s proven that they have beautiful voices with songs such as “Gotta Be This or That,” and “Undecided,” the group fumbles about the stage, tripping over long-forgotten choreography and dealing with bouts of nosebleeds, asthma, and anxiety. Will this nerdy-but-lovable quartet regain their stride in time to give a heavenly performance?
While the plot is definitely cute and gives the show a lot of laughs (including a delightful bit where they sing “Crazy ‘Bout Ya Baby” with plungers instead of microphones, and the crowd-favorite parody of The Ed Sullivan Show with “Lady of Spain”), the heart of this production is clearly the music revue– complete with tight harmonies and great personality given by the performers. The song list includes many nostalgic hits, including “Chain Gang,” “Sha Boom,” and a lovely cover of The Beatles’ “She Loves You.” The songs are segued with witty banter, and the good-natured boys love to interact with the audience as well, going as far as bringing audience members onstage to sing and dance with them! Some fine acting is also seen in this production, particularly a gentle, soft-spoken monologue by Smudge (Brandon Duncan), who wistfully remembers his love of old records before performing the number “Perfidia.”
For an evening of lively music and lighthearted humor, Forever Plaid is a great way to thaw out from Winter’s chill!
Running Time:Approximately two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
Forever Plaid plays through May 4, 2014 at Riverside Center Dinner Theater – 95 Riverside Parkway, Fredericksburg, VA. For tickets, call (888) 999-8527.