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Heavenly 1950s fun planned for CenterStage

The golden era of four-part harmony – the age of the Four Lads, the Four Aces and the Four Freshmen – returns to the CenterStage dinner theater beginning this weekend in the crowd-pleasing 1950s musical “Forever Plaid.”

The show revives many of the era’s classic love themes, including “Love is a Many Splendored Thing,” “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Perfidia” and “Moments to Remember.”

In director Kathie Doyle-Lipe’s words, it’s not the most “plotty” musical ever written. The show is essentially an excuse to reconnect the audience with as many of these familiar melodic standards as possible.

However, there is a campy and entertaining story. The Plaids, a ‘50s singing group, are ready for their big breakthrough gig at the cocktail bar at the local airport Hilton. Unfortunately, they die tragically when they are hit by a bus full of schoolgirls going to see the Beatles.

Yet they are allowed to return to earth one more time, to perform their last concert.

The show includes a number of comedy bits interspersed with the songs. For instance, the Plaids perform an entire parody version of the “Ed Sullivan Show” in just a couple of minutes. They even do an ad for a ‘54 Mercury. The show has proven to be popular dinner-theater fare around the country since its 1990 off-Broadway debut.

“I think the show is perfect for this space,” said Doyle-Lipe. “We even have an audience participation number, in which someone comes up and helps play ‘Heart and Soul’ on the piano.”

Doyle-Lipe is high on her version of the Plaids: Russell Seaton, Max Kumangai-McGee, Darin Jones and Greg Pschirrer.

“I’ve had a blast with these guys,” she said.

One other draw: CenterStage has inaugurated new, lower ticket prices. Dinner-and-show tickets for any performance are now $35. For that price, you get a full dinner with salad, choice of several entrees and nonalcoholic beverage. Appetizers, desserts and a wide range of alternate entrees are available for an extra charge.

Show-only tickets are also available for $17 for adults or $13 for students.

“Forever Plaid” opens Friday and continues through April 24, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night (except April 2 and 16). Cocktail service begins at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 6 and the show at 7:30.

There will also be two Sunday matinees, April 3 and 24, with lunch service at 12:30 p.m. and the show at 2.

CenterStage is at 1017 W. First Ave. Call the box office at 747-8243 for tickets. Tickets are also available, with service charges, through TicketsWest outlets (325-SEAT, 800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com).

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