The Dio’s ‘Forever Plaid’ is as welcome in summer as ice cream and fried chicken
PINCKNEY, Mich.–Sometimes a trip to the theater should just be a breezy, easy evening of smiles, toe-tapping, laughs and smiles. No heavy duty messages or tragic heroes. Such is an evening to be had for the next month at The Dio Dining +Entertainment as the company performs “Forever Plaid,” a slightly goofy, but sweet, story about a harmony-quartet of young men who sing us such golden oldies as “Lady of Spain,” Perfidia,” and “Crazy ‘Bout Ya Baby.”
The premise of the show, on its face, is a bit of a downer as the boys–the Plaids–modeled after groups like The Four Aces and The Four Freshman, were killed in a car crash in 1964 on their way to their big gig, the one that was really going to put them on the map. What we have here is the Plaids in heaven, recounting their dreams, songs, regrets and talent as they explain themselves to the audience. But there is not a downer scene in the entire 90-minute (no intermission) play as we get to know Franky (Steve DeBruyne), Smudge (Matthew Wallace) Jinx (Angel Velasco) and Sparky (James Fischer).
DeBruyne, who directed, has done this show a few times, and the experience shows in the tight production, timing and blocking. James Fischer is especially funny and has the pipes to go along with his timing and embodiment of the character’s slightly zany personality. The set design, by Matt Tomich, is simple, but spot on in order to convey a sort of heavenly generic, permanent performance space. There is a sequence where the boys perform a bit –an entire season of The Ed Sullivan Show in about three minutes that is one of the highlights of the show. Credit Assistant Director Dan Morrison for some of the more antic touches.
The backbone of “Plaid” is the music, and music director Brian Rose, who is on stage rather than up in the Dio’s loft, delivers a wonderful score on keyboard, accompanied by Leer Sobie on bass.
Forever Plaid is a pleasant surprise for the Dio as DeBruyne had to shuffle his summer program when the theater was unable to complete the rights transaction for Tuck Everlasting. The theater turned to familiar material that audiences have loved in the past, and this production is just as lovable.