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Review: ‘Forever Plaid’

Henegar Center's "Forever Plaid," photo by Dana Neimeier

Henegar Center’s “Forever Plaid,” photo by Dana Neimeier

By CJ MATHIAS

The musical revue “Forever Plaid” will bring back memories of the 1950s with songs like “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Catch a Falling Star” and “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing.”

With book by Stuart Ross and musical arrangements by James Raitt, “Forever Plaid” features four singers who call themselves The Plaids. On their way to their first gig, The Plaids meet their tragic end. However, they are magically brought back to earth to perform one last time.

Two are rather confident: Sparky, played by Daniel Grest, has appeared with the likes of New York Philharmonic and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and so this young man exudes plenty of confidence on stage. You can’t help smiling while watching him perform. And there’s Franky, played by Keenan Carver, who has a B.A. in Drama, is attractive and extremely watchable on stage. In fact, he’s downright dreamy.

Much of the humor comes from the two who are laughingly awkward — Jon Emmerich as Jinx and Jonathan Goforth as Smudge. Their shyness, physicality and mistakes plague their performances to the delight of the audience. As one says, “I’m not good at patter.”

This show, directed by John Kurowski, is very audience friendly. A plaid notebook circulates through the audience and you’re encouraged to write something in it for The Plaids. On opening night, people were laughing, singing, clapping and one happy, elderly gentleman even danced his way down the aisle during one of the numbers.

So if you remember when you loved boys in white dinner jackets and girls in ponytails, 45 rpm records on turntables, breaking the cellophane on a brand new LP and watching the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights, you’ll love this show.

Musical back-up for the foursome is provided by Diane Sphar on piano, Dave Pawlowski on string bass and percussion by Tim Hughes. Set and Lighting Design by David McQuillen Robertson sets the 1950s mood with a bandshell design and the smooth moves of the Plaids were choreographed by Amanda Cheyenne Manis.

This is a blast-from-the-past for a fun Retro night in downtown Melbourne.

SIDE O’ GRITS: “Forever Plaid” runs through Oct. 27 at the Henegar Center for the Arts, 625 E. New Haven Ave., Melbourne. Tickets are $25 general, $23 seniors (65 years and older) and military and $16 children 16 years and younger. Call 321-723-8698 or visit www.henegar.org.