Spare a sympathetic thought for women who once wore poodle skirts and men who bought Brylcreem by the case. Now entering their golden years, they are a neglected entertainment audience: Movies are made for teenagers. Television advertisers want shows that appeal to 20- and 30-somethings.
So let's not begrudge these fine folks the unassuming little musical revue of "Forever Plaid," the opening show of Winter Park Playhouse's season.
It's a doo-wop trip down Memory Lane, with songs like "Catch a Falling Star" and "Lady of Spain" performed in warm, four-part harmony.
"Forever Plaid" focuses on an up-and-coming 1950s male quartet called The Plaids — think of The Four Aces, who popularized many of the show's songs. The catch? The young singers are dead; a tragic car crash cut their career short. But through some cosmic mystery, they have returned to Earth to perform the great concert that never happened while they were alive.
That conceit is really just an excuse to hear the songs. This isn't a plot-heavy show: No one learns a meaningful lesson about existence or regrets the transience of life. So it's fine that director Steven Flaa has used a light hand in letting his four stars find their rhythm, so to speak, — not to mention their tight harmonies. (Musical direction is by Christopher Leavy.)
The guys' charm goes a long way in making the show entertaining to those who don't remember the Mercury Monterey or never watched "The Ed Sullivan Show."
Playhouse vets Kevin Kelly and Todd Allen Long are joined by newcomers Nick Rishel and Michael Swickard as The Plaids. Each gets a chance in the spotlight, but the real shining moments come when all four voices blend together.
"Gotta Be This or That" and "Crazy 'Bout Ya Baby" are standouts, helped by the charmingly simple choreography, the precursor to the boy-band grooving of New Kids on the Block and the like decades later.
The only disappointment is the closing number, "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing," which doesn't soar like it could. Perhaps it can't live up to its introductory monologue, expertly and passionately delivered by Kelly. He rattles off key signatures and notes as he explains the unique joy of singing in harmony as a metaphor for finding your bliss — and true companions — anywhere along life's journey.
Musicians will nod in appreciative agreement. The non-musical will wish they understood. But this show, a throwback to simpler times, offers a glimpse of that joy on the four beaming faces of The Plaids.
• What: A Winter Park Playhouse production of the Stuart Ross musical
• Length: 1:50, including intermission
• When: 2 p.m. Thursdays; 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; additional 2 p.m. matinees on Aug. 11, 18 and 21; extra "Third Thursday" evening show at 7 p.m. Aug. 15; through Aug. 24
• Where: Winter Park Playhouse, 711-C Orange Ave., Winter Park
• Tickets: $38; $28 matinees; $25 "Third Thursday" show; $20 for entertainment-industry professionals and students 25 and younger
• Call: 407-645-0145
• Online: winterparkplayhouse.orgCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun