Drury Lane opens its doors with the premiere of Forever Plaid, an Off-Broadway musical revue written by Stuart Ross. First performed in 1989, this now internationally performed musical features a boy band from the ’50s who were on their way to a concert performance.
Tragically killed before they could perform, the boys of Plaid believed this was their big break into show business.
The musical starts with a heavenly, The Book of Morman opening, as they come on stage. Then, the four boys discuss their fortunes of an afterlife performance, as if they never left. Finally, a curtain opens, and a magically time warp brings the boys of Plaid back to perform all of the songs they loved. Keeping up with the time warp theme, The Plaid asked an audience member, “What year is it?” Then pulled out their hand sanitizer. The boy group of Bryan Eng (Sparky), Michael Ferraro(Francis), Yando Lopez(Jinx), and A.D. Weaver (Smudge) four-part barbershop quartet harmony was delightful and authentic to the 50’s style of singing.
As they sing, they reminisce about their lives, bringing up the old days of the Ed Sullivan Show, displaying several of the past performers who visited. We also get a glance into each boy’s life, missed loves, and what groups or performers started their love of music.
Hearing those old songs like “Three Coins in the Fountain, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing and Perfidia;” seem timeless as the boys brought back audience members to the childhood.
He was returning to Drury Lane Theatre after his performance in Rock of Ages; Michael Ferraro (Francis), leader of the group of four in their feasible attempt to explain how they lost their chance of fame. His vocals weren’t as solid as the others; however, he carried his lead and perfectly harmonized within the group.
Making his Drury Lane debut, Bryan Eng (Sparky), with his Elvis haircut, is one of Chicago’s bright stars. He’s performed at theaters such as Lookingglass Theatre and the Marriott Theatre. A graduate of Northwestern University, Eng does a great job vocalizing that 50’s sound. We also get a taste of this multifaceted actor and musician as he shared his talent on the piano.
Also making his Drury Lane debut is A.D. Weaver as Smudge. His Facebook page features a practice scene of Forever Plaid, so visit and enjoy. https://www.facebook.com/adrian.weaver.52
His tenor and baritone voice truly completes this quartet and brings a rich tone to “Sixteen Tons,” a song Merle Travis wrote about a coal miner.
Last but surely not least is Yando Lopez as Jinx, who is returning to Drury. You could hear his impeccable male soprano voice in each ballad, and his rendition of Johnny Ray’s 1951 version of “Cry” brought the audience to its feet.
This fictional quartet combines groups such as The Four Aces, The Four Freshmen, Canadian quartet, The Four Lads, and the Beatles; provided 90 minutes of oldies but goodies. The show doesn’t seem to have any message or meaning; however, the audience can vaguely walk away with the sense that life can drastically change and we should enjoy the moments before our history as read.
Missing from Drury Lane was the usual groupies that would dress to the occasion and the after-party, which always provided the audience a nice light meal and a chance to visit the performers. As most theaters seem to be leaning toward, Drury did have a mask mandate. Hopefully other theaters will follow the proof of vaccination requirement to protect the theater from going dark again.
Let’s Play Recommend Forever Plaid.
Drury Lane Theatre
Written and Originally Directed and Choreographed by Stuart Ross
Musical Continuity Supervision and Arrangements by James Raitt
Originally Produced by Gene Wolsk
Directed and Choreographed by Paul Stancato
With Music Direction by Valerie Maze
September 17 – November 7, 2021
Filed under: ChicagoNow