To put a new twist on an old saying,
"If at first you do succeed, try, try again."
That must be the motto around the Show Palace Dinner Theatre these days, because they're doing the same show for the third time in less than 10 years — so far, with increasing success.
It's the little musical with the big songs, Forever Plaid, a fantasy about four clean-cut, clean-living young men who form a singing group in the 1950s, are killed in a car wreck on their way to their first big gig, and, decades later, are allowed to return from their heavenly plane to perform that show for one big night.
With tight harmonies and songs like Three Coins in the Fountain, Love Is a Many Splendored Thing and the definitive Perry Como song, Catch a Falling Star, the show itself has become a theater classic. Toss in a spoof of The Ed Sullivan Show and good-natured gibes at high school nerds, and you can't lose, especially with people who know who Topo Gigio and Jose Jimenez are.
The Show Palace did the show in 1999, and it was a roaring success. When they did it again in 2001, even more people showed up, some seeing it for the fourth, fifth or sixth time.
Preopening sales numbers indicate that the upcoming presentation of the show, June 6-July 27, may set a new attendance record, according to Show Palace owner/producer Nick Sessa.
"People just love this show," he said.
Former Show Palace artistic director Steven Flaa is returning to play Sparky, the ambitious one, for the third time locally and 11th time in his career. He'll also direct and choreograph the show.
Flaa has most recently been in The Pirates of Penzance at American Stage in the Park and done other roles at the Golden Apple and Florida Studio Theatre's Cabaret in Sarasota, the Venice Little Theatre and the Show Palace.
Two other Plaid veterans, Darrel Blackburn and Jonathan Harrison, will play Smudge, the group clown, and Frankie, the group crooner, respectively, while Yurief Rodriguez makes his Show Palace and Plaid debut as Jinx, the one with recurrent nosebleed.
Blackburn has played in Broadway tours of The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Who's Tommy, European tours of The Rocky Horror Show, and regional tours of various shows with Phyllis Diller, Cathy Rigby and Jamie Farr.
Harrison spent five years with the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center Highlights performing group, playing Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors and Frankie in three editions of Plaid at TBPAC's Jaeb Theatre.
Rodriguez, whose permanent base is New York City, has been in Ragtime, Man of La Mancha and Camelot, among others.
Accompanying the Plaids on stage will be Show Palace musical director Gary Wyatt, who, with his late partner Joe Camper, has written several musical revues, and bass player Irving Goldberg, who has played for productions of the Broadway shows Chicago, The Producers, Annie, Sweet Charity, Ain't Misbehavin', Peter Pan and Spamalot.