TR Robertson …If you like songs from the 50’s and 60’s, if you like harmony, if you like laughing and if you like getting into the holiday spirit, you will love “Plaid Tidings”, currently on stage at the Welk Theatre in Escondido. Welk Resort Theatre Producer Joshua Carr has brought the holiday version of “Forever Plaid”, “Plaid Tidings”, to the Welk Resort Theatre stage for the holiday season. Audiences will enjoy a two hour trip back to songs many of us have grown up with, at least those who fondly remember the 50’s and 60’s, but young people will also enjoy the songs, humor, dance and festive nature of this production. The small “orchestra” of Justin Gray, pianist, conductor ad musical director, and Martin Martiarena on Bass provide all the musical sound that is needed for this production. Jen Edwards is the assistant theatre manager and lighting designer along with David Humphrey director and choreographer for the musical.
The musical first appeared at the Pasadena Playhouse in November of 2001 with a New York City debut by the York Theatre Company at St. Peter’s in December of 2015. For the original production, vocal and musical arrangements were by James Raitt, Brad Ellis, Raymond Berg and David Snyder. The original directions and musical staging was by Stuart Ross.
The story of “Plaid Tidings – Holiday Edition of Forever Plaid” is a simple, and initially sad one. Four friends were traveling to their first musical performance in 1964 in Pennsylvania, along a twisty road when they collided with a school bus full of Catholic school girls who were on their way to see The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. The bus load of girls and nuns survived, but the four friends were killed. They went to Heaven and became in charge of Harmonal Balance, basically the Guardians of Harmony. In “Forever Plaid”, they return to Earth to perform the show they were supposed to perform the day they were killed. In “Plaid Tidings” they return to Earth for “cosmic recertification”, to capture the spirit of the season from their holiday show.
During the course of the show, the four members of the cast will perform 33 songs, some holiday related, some from the late 50’s early 60’s. The four cast members are extremely talented, funny and in perfect harmony as they present “the show they were meant to perform”. Two of the performers are Welk veterans as well as veterans of many regional stages. JD Dumas, playing Sparky, was making his Welk debut. Chaz Feuerstine was Smudge, Luke H. Jacobs was Jinx, and Bryan Banville was Frankie. Bryan was also making his Welk debut, but was making his fourth appearance in Plaid. Each member of the cast can be spoken of as a whole as it was the combined performance that made “Plaid Tidings” the delight and enjoyment the audience will remember. Each performer had moments of solo performances to go along with their harmony as a group.
A funny version of “Life Could be a Dream” featured long handled plumber’s helpers as both microphones, trumpets and dance partners. They discover they are overcome by the holiday spirit and Jinx and the boys break into “Besame Mucho”, which leads them to consult Rosemary Clooney for clues as to what they have been sent back to do on Earth. This is followed by a Jamaican style Christmas song and then Act I will end with an audience sing-a-long to “Matilda”. During the break, 1960’s commercials were shown on the large moon hanging over the stage featuring lots of General Electric and Hoover products. Act II continued with many Christmas songs sounding a lot like older rock n’ roll songs. “Let It Snow” resembles “Heart and Soul”, “Dancing in the Snow” sounded a lot like “Singing in the Rain”. One audience member was selected to come up and perform a bell routine followed by a tribute to Perry Como including film on the moon of scenes from The Perry Como Show. As Act II drew to a close, a hilarious, quick paced version of The Plaids performing “The Ed Sullivan Show” took place with many of the most memorable performers from the show – the Rockettes, the Vienna Boys Choir, the Chipmunks, Liberace, Topo Gigio and more.
This is a fun, spirited, nostalgic trip down memory lane with just the right combination of classic songs from the 50’s and 60’s and holiday songs. The overall theme of “we all have the ability to create a little harmony” permeates the musical and creates a festive holiday spirit. The musical runs through December 31st and tickets can be purchased at www.welkresorts.com or call 888-802-7469. Ticket prices start at $57 and with a buffet meal run $76. This is a great way to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, so treat yourself and your family to this enjoyable musical.