reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Last night, Mrs K and I headed up to Carmel’s The CAT for a preview performance of Stuart Ross’s musical revue, Forever Plaid. This perennial favorite is being offered as Carmel Community Player’s season opener for 2018-19 and is in some ways a reconstruct of the theatre company’s popular 2001 staging of the same.

The show is a tribute to the “nice-guy” era of pop quartets which were popular in the 1950’s and early 60’s and tells the story of The Plaids, a close harmony foursome who return to life, after their untimely demise in a car accident many years ago, for one final chance at a defining stage appearance. It is a fun mix of songs and personality-driven humor that has delighted audiences since its off-Broadway debut in 1989.


from left: Howard Baetzhold (Smudge), Rich Phipps (Frankie), Syd Loomis (Jinx), and Darrin Gowan (Sparky) cavort during a musical number in Carmel Community Players’ production of “Forever Plaid”.

CCP’s production is directed by Sandy Baetzhold, who was involved in the 2001 CCP edition of the show. Ms. Baetzhold also performs the piano accompaniment duties for the performance, alongside percussionist Richard “Sticks” Leap. The Plaids are brought back to life by Darrin Gowan as Sparky, Syd Loomis as Jinx, Rich Phipps as Frankie, and Howard Baetzhold as Smudge. (Mssrs. Loomis, Phipps and Baetzhold all appeared together in the same roles in the 2001 CCP offering, while Mr. Gowan repeats his role from The Belfry’s 2003 version.) The four men appear to have a tremendously good time presenting their characters and they offer any moments of good light-hearted comedy to the proceedings. But the real high point, the best part of the show, is the close harmony work these four gents turn in. The blended sounds of their four very well matched voices is simply splendid. Song after song is arranged to highlight their superb tight harmony work, and it is a true pleasure to hear them.

A simple set and sharp costuming, both designed by Ms. Baetzhold, add to the polish of the show, as do the lights designed by Jeff Timi.

Bottomline: Forever Plaid is an entertaining 90 minutes devoted to some of the wonderful old songs of the 50’s and 60’s. The Perry Como tribute especially brought back a lot of great memories of watching television at home with my parents and sister. The cast boasts four outstanding singers, who work especially well together recreating their very comfortable characterizations.

Forever Plaid opens September 21st and continues at CCP’s temporary venue, The CAT, 254 Veterans Way, Carmel IN, through October 7th. For information about the show and to purchase tickets, go to or call the box office at (317) 815-9387.

I’d also like to mention, regarding CCP’s search for a new home: the group has announced their 2018-19 season and all but one show will be offered at The CAT in Carmel. These shows include Forever Plaid, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Failure to Zig Zag. The Christmas show, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, will be offered at the Ji-Eun Lee Music Academy, 10029 E 126th St. Suite D, in Fishers IN. I have been told that the hunt for a new permanent address goes on.