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`FOREVER PLAID’ RESURRECTS GREAT TUNES

SHARE `FOREVER PLAID’ RESURRECTS GREAT TUNES

It's been depressing these past few days. First the dreary, gray inversion . . . then Tennessee Williams' emotional derelicts in "Iguana" at PMT . . . and Stephen Sondheim's grisly recipe for mincemeat in "Sweeney Todd" at WSU in Ogden.

And now this show about four dead guys.But, unlike "The Night of the Iguana" and "Sweeney Todd" (both of which are terrific and very worthwhile), "Forever Plaid" is joyously upbeat and lots of fun.

It's a tune-filled tribute to those wonderful "guy groups" in the 1950s and early '60s - the Crew Cuts, the Four Freshmen, the Ames Brothers . . . you know, tight harmony and songs with lyrics that you could understand and aren't labeled "unsuitable."

It's your basic musical revue, but "Forever Plaid" does have a slight story line. The four guys - Jinx, Smudge, Sparky and Frankie - were en route to their first professional gig (at the Airport Hilton FusiLounge cocktail bar) on Feb. 9, 1964, when their red Mercury convertible was broadsided by a busload of Catholic girls headed for the Ed Sullivan Show's historic American debut of the Beatles.

The girls are unscathed. The guys are DOA.

Now, flash-forward to 1996 - and, due to some cosmic quirk, the Plaids are surprised to find themselves in front of an audience - in this case, at Park City's Egyptian Theatre - making their first "live" appearance in 32 years.

They're a little nervous, of course, plus they have to work with a piano player they've never met (Brent Fotheringham) because "he came with the room."

There's no logical explanation about why the bass player, Smudge's "Uncle Charlie," happens to be here, too, but who cares about logic when there are nearly two dozen great songs, mixed in with some delightful humor?

Their resurrected concert is described as "the greatest comeback since Lazarus."

For more than an hour and a half four talented Salt Lakers - Brett Bradford (Jinx), David Evanoff (Smudge), Scott Holman (Sparky) and Dan Larrinaga (Frankie) - smoothly croon their way through such great tunes as "Three Coins in the Fountain," "Moments to Remember," "No Not Much,""Perfidia," "Shangri-La," "Rags to Riches" and "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing."

It's "Your Hit Parade," "Juke Box Saturday Night" and "The Ed Sullivan Show" all rolled into one.

Sullivan gets his own hilarious salute during which the Plaids pack decades of nostalgia and highlights into just three minutes, 11 seconds . . . "Lady of Spain" on the accordion, trained dogs, spinning plates, acrobats, opera singers, even beloved Topo Gigio.

The Plaids may have been dead for 32 years, but Bradford, Evanoff, Holman and Larrinaga are energetic, lively and musically harmonious.

There were a few rough edges on Friday night. The "calypso" lights and another fixture on the left side of the stage didn't work.

Edward J. Gryska directed the show with his usual skill. Marnie Sears' simple, functional set and Christine Murdock's costumes were first-rate.

For this nifty trip down Memory Lane, it's just a short trip to Park City's Main Street.

A word of advice: Arrive early enough to get parked, especially on weekends. The area around the Egyptian Theatre is jammed with shoppers and diners - and parking is at a premium.