Drew Wolff, David Neuser, Dustin Keyes and Jeremy Sonkin charm the audience with their tight-harmony singing.
The cloth known as plaid originated in Scotland as tartan and is renowned for its warmth and durability. It is woven from bold colors, but with subtle variations that draw out the individuality of each pattern. The same can be said of Madison Theatre Guild's production of Forever Plaid so delightful.
The admirably energetic cast (Dustin Keyes as Smudge, David Neuser as Sparky, Jeremy Sonkin as Frankie, and Drew Wolff as Jinx) cajoles and charms the audience with their bravura tight-harmony singing and their quirky characters. Backed by the superb musicianship of David Sytkowski (piano and musical director) and Ben Willis (string bass) the foursome swoon and croon through a smorgasbord of Fifties classics, interspersing the songs with comical glimpses of their personal peculiarities. (Smudge can never tell left from right, and Sparky makes shadow puppets when he should be concentrating on his back-up vocal.)
Along the way there is a hilarious reproduction of the entire history of the Ed Sullivan Show ("in three minutes and eleven seconds!") and even some audience participation (one brave soul gets up onstage to play the corny piano part of "Heart and Soul"). But what really sticks in the memory is the sheer delight the four singers take in their music and in each other's friendship.
On opening night, the audience was disappointingly sparse, which may have contributed to some of the mistiming and jitters that were sprinkled throughout the evening. The dialogue is flatly uninspiring compared to the lively musical interludes, and the noisy riser on which the show is staged is irritatingly distracting. This is, nevertheless, a fun production, and the hardworking performers deserve to draw bigger houses. Go and see them, and you'll come away feeling plaid all over.