(Victor Valley) – The dynamic duo of Tom Hannett and Danny Thorn are bringing great family entertainment to the stage once again at the High Desert Center for the Arts with the time honored favorite “Forever Plaid”, heading into its final weekend.
More of a revue than a traditional play, “Forever Plaid” tells 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 return to earth for one night only, in order to give their concert and fulfill their dream, filling the stage with hokey comedy, endearing personal revelations, and tons of gorgeous close-harmony singing.
A show like this relies heavily on the singing of the cast and producer Tom Hannett and director Danny Thorn have assembled a fine collection of voices. The balance and blend between the four voices is excellent and the harmonies are amazing.
The group, The Plaids, is based on all the great four-man groups of the late ’50s and early ’60s like the Lettermen and Four Freshmen, with affectionate tributes to such cultural icons as Ed Sullivan and Perry Como. Forever Plaid is an audience pleaser for most any age group.
Before the show opened, I had the chance to sit down and talk with each of the Plaids. This is my interview with Robert Keil Blomker II who plays “Frankie” in the show:
High Desert Daily: Tell us about your theater background.
Robert: I have been a veteran of the stage. I’m 24, I’ve been in countless musicals, countless plays. I just finished writing my own musical with Patrick (Summers) who is also in the show. These past 3 years have been packed with theater. Doing things like Rent, Seussical the Musical, plus getting ready for this year of theater. I’ve won a couple of awards – including taking the first place award from the Drama Teachers’ Association of Southern California, 3 times while I was in high school. I’ve just been doing theater pretty much since I’ve been out of high school.
I also direct – I directed Rent and California Love, and I was assistant director for Seussical. I’ve done pretty much everything in the theater.
HDD: Tell us about your character in the show.
Robert: Frankie, he’s kind of like the caretaker of the group. He’s like the main guy. He sings the second tenor which is usually the lead part. He’s the one that is a little cooler, even though they are all nerds, he’s the one that is a little bit cooler than the rest of them. He is the one that is always knowledgeable of the fact that they are dead (they are dead in the show), while the other guys are like, “Oh maybe we can go back and be alive again.” Toward the end of the show, and I don’t want to spoil anything, but toward the end of the show he does come to terms with it and gets the other guys to actually think of that too.
HDD: What characteristic do you identify most with your character?
Robert: I’m kind of like the caretaker of the group with my friends and my family. I’m usually the one that’s level headed about the everything, telling everyone “Don’t panic, don’t worry about it.” That’s how I relate to Frances.
HDD: Was your part easy to learn?
Robert: No, definitely not. The singing – its super tight harmony. Its Do Wap, Barbershop, whatever you want to call it. It has crazy harmonies. The music is the part, it’s a musical, so it is going to be the hardest part. Also the choreography – it’s a pain in the butt! Lots of things going on at once – we’re trying to sing the harmony and we’re trying to do the silly choreography and the steps and stuff like that, you should see us up there, its crazy!
HDD: What do you think of the music?
Robert: Oh I love the music! It’s all 50s, 60s, stuff like that, what I actually grew up on. My mom played all of the tapes, records, everything like that for me. I LOVE the music.
HDD: Is there anything about this show that is different from other shows you’ve been in previously?
Robert: Oh yeah – four guys. I’m friends with all of them, I don’t have to worry about any drama, or anything like that. That’s the biggest thing, being able to do this with my friends: Patrick, Shane, Tony. I’ve worked with all of them in the past – Patrick and I in High D Boys, Shane and I in Rent, Tony was in California Love. Just the fact that the four of us are able to meld and mesh together, and be ourselves on stage, that’s the biggest difference from all the other shows.
HDD: What are you hoping the audience takes away from this show?
Robert: I’m hoping that they come to see us sing, and they leave with a new respect for this music. I know music has changed a lot since the 50s and 60s so I hope that after the audience hears it in the show they will pop in a CD of the Drifters or something like that in their car, and they’ll start listening to more music like that. Then, of course, I hope they will bring other people to the show.
HDD: What behind the scenes stuff do you want to share?
Robert: All the juicy, juicy details. First time working with, well 2nd time working with Tom and Danny, wonderful guys, perfect guys. They’re great. Other than that I have to say we’re all really busy, we rehearse 4 times a week which is a lot when we all have jobs. We all come here, we’re super tired, so we have to all lift each other up.
Forever Plaid was written and originally directed and choreographed by Stuart Ross. The show wraps up tonight at the High Desert Center for the Arts, with show 2:30 and 7:30pm.
Tickets are available DB Music in Hesperia 760-949-3838. Or e-mail for more information Hannett_Thorn_Productions@yahoo.com.