THEATER REVIEW: “Forever Plaid” is a delightful bonbon

Those Plaids have been in and out of purgatory for some 20 years now.

They’re back (again), in Vista, complete with voices and dinner jackets and ready to “make the biggest comeback since Lazarus” in their “Forever Plaid” show at the Moonlight Amphitheatre. David Engel, the original Smudge, directs.

For the non-Plaidheads out there, the Plaids were a high school male quartet. They were innocents – nerdy guys who never got the girl. You know, the ones who trundled the a-v carts around campus and held the door open for girls.

They were on their way to a gig when their red Mercury was slammed by a busload of Catholic schoolgirls on their way to see the Beatles’ 1964 U.S. debut on the Ed Sullivan show.

The girls survived intact, but the Plaids went on to, well, purgatory. And now they’re back to sing the concert they never got to do and answer this burning question: Where do the unresolved chords and unresolved lives go?

So relax, cast your mind back to the ’50s and early ’60s and listen to golden oldies like “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “No, Not Much,” “Perfidia” and that old prom favorite “Moments to Remember,” sung in the close harmony style of the Hi-Lo’s and the Four Freshmen (or, perhaps more to the point, the Four Aces, many of whose songs they do here).

They all had after-school jobs, too: First tenor Jinx (Nick Lorenzini) works in hardware and is given to nosebleeds. Second tenor Francis, aka Frankie (Joshua David Cavanaugh) works in plumbing accessories. Baritone Sparky (Jeffrey Scott Parsons) sells “fine dresses.” And bass Smudge (Joey DeBenedetto) is in building supplies.

The songs are ’50s and so is the comedy, which makes this a show you can bring the kids to – though it’s more fun if you remember the time period.

There’s a Perry Como section, positing that the TV star hears the Plaids sing (after Sparky steals his carburetor and he’s stranded) and leaves them with his golden cardigan as a memento. (This is accompanied by a few Como standards like “Papa Loves Mambo” and “Catch a Falling Star.”)

There’s a Calypso section (with audience participation) and a hoot of a 3-minute segment summarizing the Ed Sullivan show with a parade of Sullivan’s frequent guests, including (among others) José Jimenez, the singing nun, the plate balancer, a trained seal, Señor Wences and the Flying Wallendas.

But you’re there for the music, and you won’t be disappointed. Lorenzini’s Jinx has a lock on those high notes, DeBenedetto’s got the low ones covered (and sounds especially good on “Rags to Riches.” Cavanaugh wails on “Chain Gang” and Parsons sounds great on “Perfidia.”

If you’re looking for a serious plot or whizbang special effects, keep looking. But for a delightful evening of song and comedy, you can’t do much better than this “Forever Plaid.”

The details

“Forever Plaid” plays through July 3 at Moonlight Amphitheatre, 1200 Vale Terrace Drive in Vista.

Wednesday through Sunday at 8 pm.

For tickets call (760) 724-2110 or visit HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.