BY RUTH RICE
A heavenly musical will present down-to-earth songs.
“Forever Plaid” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.
“This is being done by a national touring company from Barter Theatre, so the quality will be excellent,” said Michael Bodolosky, arts center executive director.
“It’s a fun, feel-good musical.
“It’s set in the 1950s when rock ’n’ roll was going through a period of four-part guy groups.
“Quartets with microphones harmonized their way across the county.”
In “Forever Plaid,” friends Sparky, Smudge, Jinx and Frankie meet in high school and discover they love music and singing, so they dream of becoming like their idols – The Four Aces, The Four Freshmen and The Four Lads.
The original off-Broadway musical comedy opened May 20, 1990, in New York City and is now performed internationally.
Musical and vocal arrangements and musical direction were by James Raitt, and the show was written, directed and choreographed by Stuart Ross.
“It’s a Broadway musical with a story line and dialogue,” Bodolosky said.
“It’s been popular in Pittsburgh. It should be well-known in the area.”
Director Robert Randle said Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va., puts on 24 to 28 professional productions a year in addition to sending out touring companies.
“It’s a resident acting company,” Randle said.
“They’re a fine-tuned machine, and their educational programs are amazing.”
“They did ‘Forever Plaid’ for a couple months last year. Then they wanted to take it on tour.”
Randle believes the show’s popularity is a combination of the story line and the music.
“This is a walk down memory lane for quite a few,” Randle said.
“My mother graduated in 1957, and songs from the show bring back memories for her.”
Randle also likes to see how those not yet born for the time of poodle skirts and the “Ed Sullivan Show” react to the musical.
“They mostly enjoy singing the music,” he said.
“The music is the star of the show.”
The audience will hear ’50s hits such as “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Undecided,” “Gotta Be This or That,” “Moments to Remember,” “Crazy ’Bout Ya, Baby,” “No, Not Much,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Chain Gang,” “Perfidia,” “Cry,” “Heart and Soul,” “Lady of Spain,” “Scotland the Brave,” “Shangri-La,” “Rags to Riches” and “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing.”
The story line follows The Plaids as they die in a traffic accident on the way to their first big concert, only to be magically resurrected for one final chance at musical glory.
In between telling the stories of their lives, the group performs some of the greatest hits from the 1950s.
“It’s comedic, but it comes from an honest spot,” said Randle, who has performed the two tenor parts himself.
“If you play it for laughs, it’s not always honest.”
“The music is amazing to sing. It was like a puzzle to put together every night. It taught me how to act.”
Randle said the musical breaks down the fourth wall onstage and uses the audience as part of the show.
“It makes you think on your feet, making it all honest,” Randle said.
“It’s a different show every night. You find it within yourself to make it fresh.”
The show is about 90 minutes long.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Randle said.
“There’s fun to be had by all.”
Bodolosky said tickets are selling well, but seats are still available for the show.
What: “Forever Plaid.”
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21.
Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.
Tickets: $36 for adults, $34 for senior citizens and discounts and $12 for students.
Information: 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or www.upjarts.org.