Audience favorite returns to Littleton
Lights go up at Town Hall and you're in the cocktail bar. It's Feb. 9, 1964. The bandstand, surrounded by marquee lights, holds Donna Debreceni at the grand piano, which is draped in a swath of plaid fabric — and bassist Austin Hein.
The show on stage is “Forever Plaid” by Stuart Ross — an audience favorite in its third run at Town Hall since the theater opened 25 years ago. (Debreceni has played all three.)
Enter four young guys out of the mist, in white tux jackets and carrying candles. They chant “Deus ex Plaid,” explaining that they were a start-up group, on the way to play a senior prom when they were broadsided and killed by a bus filled with Catholic teens, en route to the Ed Sullivan Show to see the Beatles.
Temporarily back on earth with a chance to do that one show, they immediately launch into: “Three Coins in a Fountain,” “Undecided” and “Moments to Remember” — dedicated to anyone who has ever been to a prom.
Mark Middlebrooks (Francis), Barret Harper (Jinx), Jacob Villereal (Smudge) and Tim Howard (Sparky) are the four Plaids, who reminisce about their rehearsals, local performances and high school days in small-town Pennsylvania, longing for a big-time gig.
They sing in perfect harmony, each with a distinct personality and move/dance, choreographed by director Nick Sugar, who observed that this is “a really sweet show.” And it is. One leaves the theater smiling.
The first act continues with several more popular songs, ending with an entertaining collection of “Caribbean Plaid” songs (think Harry Belafonte) with a Latin beat — as palm trees sprout onstage.
The second act continues with more nostalgic numbers, culminating in the act they imagine performing for the Ed Sullivan Show (my personal favorite). To the strains of “Lady of Spain,” played on the accordion by Jinx in sombrero, slapstick takes over as they deal with Smudge's fire-eating act in the background, plus juggling and various other stuff …
A box arrives (an order they didn't receive before the accident). It contains four plaid tux jackets, which allow them to finish the act looking as they'd originally planned — and singing “Scotland the Brave,” a switch from the rest of the repertoire.
As they fade back into the mist, the audience is heard commenting on how they hadn't heard this or that song for years — and how they enjoyed this light, pleasing musical, lovingly polished by Sugar, Debreceni and the four Plaids.
If you go
“Forever Plaid” plays through Feb. 10 at Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St., Littleton. Performances: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays and Jan. 26; plus 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 27. Tickets cost $20 to $40, 303-794-2787, ext. 5, Townhallartscenter.com.