Here is the best reason — perhaps the only reason — to revisit the 1950s:
The music. Rock ’n’ roll was born in that decade, and, as far as we can tell, it will never die.
Which brings us to “Forever Plaid,” which Arizona Onstage Productions opens this weekend. It’s chock full of tunes from the ’50s.
This little play has been floating around since the early ’90s — Invisible Theatre did a fine production of it in 2000. It bears repeating, says Kevin Johnson, director of this production and founder of Arizona Onstage.
“It’s music that people have good memories about,” he says, snapping off a list of some of the songs, such as “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing,” “Moments to Remember” and “No, Not Much.”
Here’s the set-up: Four young lads are on their way to their first big concert when they have a most unfortunate accident: Their convertible is hit by a bus full of nuns and students on their way to see the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
Of course, the boys die. But the powers that be in the heavens above decide the boys need a second chance at the big time — if just for one night. They are allowed to return to Earth for that one big concert.
And that’s the concert we’ll get to see.
“I like the way the story is set up,” says Johnson. “It’s not a typical jukebox musical. You learn about the four young men, and how the friendship is important to each, and each has a trait that’s exemplified in the songs they sing.”
And while the boys may be heaven-sent, they still have issues: unrequited love, teen angst, insecurities.
There’s Jinx, “the shy one,” says Johnson. “When he hits any note above an eight, he gets a nosebleed.”
And Francis, the leader of the group. “He’s very asthmatic and the heart of the group,” says Johnson. “He’s the one who keeps everyone going, in spite of nosebleeds.”
Sparky is the group clown. “He’s into his looks, wears a retainer and has a speech impediment,” says Johnson.
Smudge is the worrier. “He’s worried the audience won’t like him, or where the props are, and he often gets indigestion when he sings.”
Sounds like a group designed to make us love them. Those songs, sung in tight four-part harmony, should seal the deal.