GET READY, ETA Creative Arts Foundation. As warm and wise as it was five years ago when it premiered at Victory Gardens Theater, this charming ensemble work by Joe Plummer, Debi Stewart, and the late Jaye Stewart follows the rocky road of the Doves, a 50s R & B harmony group. Eager for a comeback after 40 years--it's their "last chance to get serious"--the five cantankerous crooners work overtime to get their old act together. Their most notable obstacle is lead singer Roscoe, who wants to make it as a solo act. Urging him on is his wife, Eva D., still furious that the Doves forced her out of her own career. Other complications include one singer's missing artificial eye. It's all a happy excuse for Plummer's doo-wop ballads, which range from mellow to rousing, and for Stewart's tart dialogue; together they celebrate the struggles of African-American music veterans, as Stewart did in his popular vaudeville tribute Rollin' With Stewart and Stevens.
Thanks to Phillip Van Lear's rollicking staging, we care a lot about these five fierce friends whose nonnegotiable egos could spoil their chance at a second coming. Al Boswell has foxy fun as the manager who brings the guys together. As feuding Roscoe and Eva, Brian E. Smith and Rhonda Preston catapult their solos into the outer solar system. And the Doves--Lyle Miller, Woody Bolar, Edward Richardson, and Elfeigo Goodum--prove how much dissonance it takes to create perfect harmony. --Lawrence Bommer