There is a day in the future that we can all anticipate with glee. That is the day when no one will be making Ed Sullivan jokes anymore, because no one will fucking remember The Ed Sullivan Show, nor any of the acts that trotted across its TV stage. And that goes double for pretty much all the lame 1950s nostalgia that is dragged out to coax faint chuckles from the pre-dead.
Speaking as a member of that ancient group, I have about had it up to here with shows such as Forever Plaid, now at Great Lakes Theater, since they pander to those of us 70 years and older with syrupy tunes and lame humor. And the Ed Sullivan schtick is part of this tepid song ‘n’ dance exercise, as the actors perform a frenzied, capsule version of that long-ago variety show. When was it decided we oldsters like that crap? I’ll take reruns of Veep any day to guys pretending to be The Four Freshmen harmonizing to “Lady of Spain.”
But hey, each to their own. If you love those close-harmony boy singing groups crooning “Shangri-la” and reliving the Eisenhower era, fire up your Rascal and head on down to East 14th Street. Because even though the show, which is “written” by Stuart Ross, is flimsy and yawn-inducing it won’t matter – because you forget everything at this point anyhow. It's one of the tiny blessings of old age.
The performers are four young lads who all studied at Baldwin Wallace University, which is evidence of their intelligence and talent. And the group of them—Mack Shirilla, Andrew Kotzen, Mickey Patrick Ryan and James Penca—bring boyish verve and endless energy to the mercifully brief proceedings.
The cast is supported by a team of BW teachers and alumni including director Victoria Bussert, choreographer Gregory Daniels, music director Matthew Webb and scenic designer Jeff Herrmann. They all do their jobs professionally but, really, does anyone care? It’s Forever Plaid, for God’s sake.
It’s understandable that GLT mixes in some easier-to-swallow fare along with their Shakespeare plays, to keep the subscribers happy and the seats filled. But do we really have to help keep this kind of tripe alive? I mean, we’re old, but we ain’t dead yet.
Through May 21 at Great Lakes Theater, Hanna Theatre, 2067 E. 14th St., 216-241-6000, greatlakestheater.org