Forever Plaid mashes up Glee and The Twilight Zone to form the most interactive and innocent local show this season. This musical revue has enchanting characters, an imaginative framework, and a song selection that will be refreshingly unfamiliar to younger audience members.
The show is named for a fictional close harmony group that performed at wedding receptions, proms, conventions, and country club socials in the late '50s and early '60s. Although they never made it big, they loved to sing and knew how to entertain a crowd. The Plaids were all set for their first major gig at the Airport Hilton's Fusil Lounge when they died in an auto accident. Now 45 years later, the stars are perfectly aligned for them to escape from purgatory and perform the show they never could in life. This plot gives Forever Plaid a fun supernatural twist and adds a sense of urgency too — the four singers have to keep the tunes flowing before they run out of time and move on to a higher plane.
Group leader Frankie (Ryan Ahlert) is a smooth-as-soda young idealist. There are opportunities for the gifted Ahlert to flesh out his role, whether by egging his friends on, reminiscing about their early days, or waxing lyrical on the incomparable joy of singing a tight chord. Jinx is portrayed by Husain Williams, who gives his character a sensitive edge, despite having a powerful singing voice. Meanwhile, Sparky (Brandon L. Joyner) says what's on his mind, whether it's right or not, and Joyner is not afraid of making himself look silly when the script calls for it. As the socially inept Smudge, Brian Bogstad is a last-minute addition to the cast, And while he has only five rehearsals under his belt, he has all the songs, dialogue, and choreography down.
Each singer is distinctive with his own quirks and failings. With their nose bleeds, anxiety attacks, and stutters, these are nerds who spend their lives chasing a dream they never realized — and we love them all the more for it.
Meanwhile, director Sheri Grace Wenger knows how to emphasize the jokes without sabotaging the narrative.