“Forever Plaid” by Scott Ross first hit the stage in 1990.
Since then, it has been a big hit, first running here in
Milwaukee in 1999, where it delighted audiences for a record
24 weeks. It returned again in 2003 at Vogel Hall and at the
Skylight Music Theatre in an alternate version, “Plaid
Tidings,” in 2009.
Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s Stackner Theater has begun its
In a world
often roiled in turmoil, it is refreshing to spend 90 minutes
returning to a more innocent period where harmony and
playfulness dominate. This production will lighten your
spirits as four talented vocalists take you back to the 1950s
and ‘60s and share some of the music of that era. If
you’re not old enough to remember, perhaps your parents have
shared their music with you. If not, here’s a delicious
introduction to it.
giving each singer a distinct personality, the writer has
created a context for them. This young quartet was killed in a
car accident as they journeyed toward their first big gig. For
some mysterious reason, they have been allowed to return to
earth for one concert, an opportunity which they regard with
gratitude and excitement. It is a dream come true for them
and, as it turns out, for us, as well.
stylistic moves, prevalent with ensemble singers of this
period, are mildly satirized along the way. Some of the humor
is a product of these gyrations, but there are other amusing
touches, as well. The characters themselves with their
insecurities, their physical ailments, their innocence, their
costuming choices, their romanticizing of show biz, their
unusual props, especially those used in their reconstruction
of the Ed Sullivan Show, and their adoration of Perry Como’s
gold cardigan - all keep us laughing even as we are relishing
their tight harmonies and the resonance of their solo voices.
the standards included in their repertoire were “Three Coins
in a Fountain,” “No, Not Much,” “Gotta Be This or
That,” “Heart and Soul,” “Crazy ‘Bout Ya, Baby,”
“Rags to Riches,” “Shangri-La,” “Perfidia,”
“Sixteen Tons,” “Love
is a Many-Splendored Thing” and “Moments to Remember.”
entertainers who play the parts of Frankie, Sparky, Jinx and
Smudge are delightful to watch and listen to.
Lewellyn) is the take-charge nerdy one; Sparky (Adam Estes)
thinks he’s cool and likes to ham it up; Jinx (Paul Helm) is
shy and has nose bleeds, but knocks us out with his version of
“Cry” and charms us with his innocence; and Anard Nagraj
is sometimes out of sync with the choreography but never with
his beautiful bass voice. His “Rags to Riches” and
“Sixteen Tons” are dazzling.
a bit of audience involvement, which adds to the connection.
We participate in the rendering of “Matilda,” and one
brave audience member takes part in playing “Heart and
Soul” on the piano. Colleen Schmitt does the honors the rest
of the time and is an accomplished accompanist.
colorful set with some built-in surprises was fashioned by
Megan Truscott and serves as a perfect backdrop. Ably directed
by guest director JC Clementz, “Forever Plaid” runs
through Dec. 29 with multiple shows per week. The past is
never out of style. There will always be those who want to
remember. Be sure to take advantage of this offering.
Plaid” runs through Dec. 29 at the Stackner Cabaret located
in The Intercontinental Hotel, 108 E. Wells St. Call
for show times and tickets or visit www.milwaukeerep.com