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Forever Plaid takes Sterling stage
The Sterling “Plaids” rehearse the 1950s pop tune “No, Not Much” made popular by The Four Lads, which will be part of the musical “Forever Plaid” to be presented in Sterling in mid-June. The cast includes, from left: Robbie Stansbury, Luke Harding, Noah Svaty, and Caleb Brownlee.

There is nothing quite like hearing four guys singing in tight four-part harmonies! It’s a beautiful sound that audiences will hear plenty of in the Sterling Community Theatre Troupe’s production of the hit musical “Forever Plaid” which will be staged at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 16 at the Betsy Dutton Theatre in Sterling High School. 

This close-cropped, plaid-clad, tight-harmony quartet of high school buddies, Jinx, Smudge, Frankie, and Sparky, go rolling in their cherry red ‘54 Mercury, hopped up about the group’s first big gig, at an airport cocktail bar: The Fusill-Lounge. Just as they soar to an E flat diminished seventh chord on “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing,” a bus crammed with Catholic schoolgirls, on their way to see this new British group, the Beatles, make their American debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” knocks the Merc into discordance, or as it turns out, a kind of non-living limbo.

The teen girls survive, the boys, not so much. Though technically dead, the fellas step up again 60 years later in “Forever Plaid” to finally perform that dream show.

That’s the conceit writer/director Stuart Ross concocted for his jukebox musical, playing off the old clean-cut, spiffily-dressed vocal quartets of the ‘50s and early ‘60s, groups such as the Four Aces, the Four Freshmen, and the Ames Brothers. The show contains many golden oldies, songs such as “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Moments to Remember,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Chain Gang,” “Heart and Soul,” “Lady of Spain,” “Shangri-La,” “Rags to Riches,” and of course, “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing.”

The show resonates with audiences on many levels: chasing dreams, making sacrifices to follow your calling into the arts, and most importantly, the bond these four characters share. They aren’t related by blood, but their bond of music and harmony make them as close as a family.

“Forever Plaid” was originally performed in New York in the late ‘80s and became a huge hit with productions across the country. Betsy Dutton directed a production of the show in 1997 at Sterling High School Theatre. “That was the only show in my 40+ year tenure that we had to add an additional performance because of demand,” she said. 

That production proved so popular that the same four cast members recreated it for the Sterling Community Theatre Troupe the following summer. The cast of those 1997 productions reunited to perform a few songs on their former teacher’s retirement. That’s where a few Sterling College guys first heard of the show and became interested in doing it themselves. 

Those Sterling students have been working on the show on and off during the just-finished school year and are now readying the show for production next month. The new Sterling cast consists of Luke Harding, Sterling, as Frankie, the leader of the group; Robbie Stansbury, Lyons, as Smudge, the man-child with a heart of gold; Noah Svaty, Sterling, as Sparky, the cut-up of the group; and Caleb Brownlee, Sterling, as Jinx, the shy one who gets coaxed out from behind everyone’s shadow.

The four “Plaids” will also be part of the Sterling Community Theatre Troupe production of the musical “Gypsy” set for July 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. and for 2 p.m. on July 7. The two-person musical Pete ‘N’ Keely will be presented by the Troupe in August.  

Tickets for the Sterling Community Theatre Troupe’s production of Forever Plaid will be available at the door before each performance and will be $15 for adults and $5 for students.