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Forever Plaid review at St James Studio, London – ‘goofy and glorious’

The cast of Forever Plaid at St James Studio, London. The cast of Forever Plaid at St James Studio, London. Photo: Claire Bilyard
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Biographical jukebox musicals currently catalogue the lives and musical careers of Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Ray Davies and the Kinks, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and Berry Gordy and Motown in the West End. But Forever Plaid is a show of a different stripe – or rather plaid.

It’s an inventive and utterly delightful catalogue show of 1950s standards based on a fictional close harmony lounge singer quartet called the Plaids who never hit the big-time but were hit and killed by a bus instead en route to a gig.

Now these four fresh-faced young men return from the dead to present the concert they never got to give in 1964. The result is both goofy and musically glorious. Stuart Ross’s revue, which premiered off-Broadway in 1990, never takes itself seriously script-wise, but the music is constantly honoured and given performances as sharp as the suits the boys are wearing and as slick as their well-oiled hair.

The show wallows in period charm, and this terrific quartet bring to it a lively, spirited enthusiasm that is at once full of knowing irreverence and affectionately respectful. Crazy ‘Bout Ya Baby, for instance, is performed with plungers standing in for microphone stands – a great visual gag – and the Beatles standard She Loves You is given a doo-wop make-over.

All four members of the cast sing (and dance) up storm, from SClub7 singer-turned-actor Jon Lee and Any Dream will Do runner-up Keith Jack, to Matthew Quinn, niftily doubling on double bass, and Luke Striffler – who each have the period look spot-on.


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Crazy Bout Ya Baby is the finale reprise – and I’m crazy about this show