Forever Plaid | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Forever Plaid

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FOREVER PLAID, Royal George Cabaret Theatre. Vastly superior to Wisdom Bridge's 1990 production, this staging of Stuart Ross and James Raitt's tribute to 50s pop is a glorious blend of goofy comedy and gorgeous singing. A male quartet called the Four Plaids make the ultimate comeback, returning to earth 30 years after their tour van fatally collided with a bus full of Beatles fans. Blissfully unaware of changes in musical taste, the teen angels offer a concert of heavenly harmonizing, fighting off nosebleeds, asthma attacks, uncertain left-right coordination, and other adolescent anxiety producers in their ongoing quest for the perfect chord.

Scot Fedderly, Fred Goudy, Sean Allan Krill, and Greg Walter, well cast as Perry Como wannabes Jinx, Smudge, Sparky, and Frankie, combine keen comic timing with superb musicianship, honoring the beauty of their close-harmony crooning while they spoof its Formica-shiny squareness. Directing his own script, Ross fills the show with nearly nonstop sight gags, kitschy choreography, and deftly underplayed double entendres; but the hilarity never compromises the vocalists' dynamic precision or vibrant intonation (Kevin Cole is the superb musical director-pianist). The 30-song repertoire ranges from pop gems like "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," "Cry," "Moments to Remember," and "Three Coins in the Fountain" to a Scottish folk hymn to a Wonder Bread-white medley of Harry Belafonte hits, climaxing in a three-minute Ed Sullivan Show tribute that's a masterpiece of inspired madness. This is giddy, lightweight entertainment delivered with just the right balance of campiness and quality.

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