(Victorville) – The time has come and it is finally here – Forever Plaid presented by Hannett/Thorn Productions opened Friday at the High Desert Center for the Arts and what a great show it is! Charming, funny, endearing – a great evening of family entertainment. This top notch show is one you don’t want to miss.
The vocal talents of Shane Churchill, Tony Winkle, Patrick Summers, and Robert Keil Blomker II are beautifully showcased in this musical “revue” under the direction of Tom Hannett. This is the story of a male pop quartet that was killed in a car crash on the way to their first professional gig, and has been stuck ever since in some kind of limbo. They are allowed to return for one final show before ascending to heaven. Unsure of themselves and worried about where they will end up after the performance, the four put on the best show they can. And it is extremely entertaining.
The slapstick and joke timing are right on (including a great bit they do with 4 toilet plungers that is hilarious), but their tight harmonies and the ability of any of the four to sing lead are what really stand out. They sing renditions from a variety of over 25 songs—from an upbeat version of Perfidia to Calypso songs to the Beatle’s “She Loves You” and many from the ’40s and ’50s including some wonderful ballads. They also do a bit in a tribute to their idol, Perry Como.
Each of the four characters is given a clear and immediately recognizable personality, and each gets ample opportunities to shine. The four actors not only have great pipes, but they also harmonize with masterful control and sense of balance (for which music director Danny Thorn also deserves praise).
Every cast member is a potential show-stealer, so it’s a good thing they are evenly matched. As the leader of the group, Frankie, played by Blomker, who is always fun to watch and even more pleasing to listen to, is charmingly nerdy as he tries to keep a good face on things, even when they go uncontrollably wrong. As the nervous, nosebleed-prone Jinx, Winkle sings like an angel and is believably timid (until his character lets loose with a well-sung “Cry”). Churchill as the nerdy, bespectacled Smudge exhibits a comic flair and also a great voice, the full range of which is well-used, particularly in the comic “Sixteen Tons” where his deep bass style really shines. Summers’ goofy sense of humor is a perfect fit for Sparky. And you must see Summers “shred” on a Melodica – it is absolutely hilarious!
There are so many highlights in this show – such as the Plaids inviting the audience to sing along with “Matilda”; when a Plaid chooses a substitute piano player from the crowd for “Heart and Soul”; and the most fun of all – cramming an episode of “The Ed Sullivan Show” into a three minute version of “Lady of Spain” (the production’s hands-down comedy highlight).
All four actors handle the choreography by Jerri Romero-Hudgens quite well. Some of the choreography is designed to look silly and out of place, which makes for several funny bits.
Pianist Travis Packer alongside bassist Daniel “Uncle Dan” Reyes provide excellent musical accompaniment.
Ultimately Forever Plaid is fun for all—a well done evening’s entertainment with lots of laughs and great music.
Forever Plaid was written and originally directed and choreographed by Stuart Ross. The show runs at the High Desert Center for the Arts Feb 20th, 24th, 25th, 27th, and March 2nd and 3rd.
Tickets are available DB Music in Hesperia 760-949-3838. Or e-mail for more information Hannett_Thorn_Productions@yahoo.com.