Since the death of Lawrence Welk, Americans have had to forage for shows that feature the Oldies. Symphony orchestras will sometimes do a "nostalgia" night. And there's always the radio.
But one of the most popular "new memory lanes" is the Broadway musical, "Forever Plaid." The format is simple: a musical revue with a thin plot that allows four guys to sing old harmony tunes. Yet the framework works so well that "Forever Plaid" has become a staple on the local theater scene. The most recent version is at the Grand.
The key to "Forever Plaid," of course, is the voices. The four guys must be able to tie chords as tight as knots and pump out waves of sentiment. And in Brett Bradford, Jared Wright Brubaker, Dave Evanoff and Rock Hatch White, director Toni Byrd has a fine cast. (Larry Smith handles the piano accompaniments).
And the strengths are very strong here. Props and scenery are as expensive as you'll find for the show. Acoustics are solid. And the numbers come out clean and clear.
If there are problems, they are in the staging. The stage at the Grand is so large that only the Beatles could fill it with their personalities. But rather than shrink the stage for a club show (the format of "Forever Plaid" is a lounge act), J. Chad Davis has decided to go the other way. Giant picture windows, a crane, a bar, life-size photos of airliners and Las Vegas style steps give the show the air of a spectacle. But it undermines the intimacy. The show is full of small moments that get lost on the crowd - especially those at the back of the hall.
And several times when the boys should be belting out big chords, they back off to blend. "No, Not Much" and the big finish, "Love is a Many Splendoured Thing" never do go over the top and get lost in the surroundings.
Still, that said, I would go back to this one. If only to hear Rock Hatch White let loose again on "Rags to Riches."