Sequels are dangerous; in many cases they can’t capture the magic of the original property, and damage the franchise in doing so. There are, however, some exceptions to the rule. One such exception is currently running at Bucks County Playhouse…the Christmas sequel to FOREVER PLAID, named (appropriately enough) PLAID TIDINGS.
PLAID TIDINGS re-introduces us to the 50’s era group The Plaids, Smudge (Sean Bell), Sparky (Nick Cearley), Frankie (Ben Mayne) and Jinx (Mitch McCarrell.) The are brought back from the afterlife (having died in a collision with a bus fill with Catholic schoolgirls on their way to see The Beatles’ American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show) for…what? They are given clues as to their “mission” by notes from Rosemary Clooney. They determine that they have been given the opportunity to do their Christmas Special…that they have never rehearsed. But, along with the band (Pianist/Conductor Phil Reno and Bassist Shane Aaserud) they figure it out as they go.
This show is a lot of fun…the plot is threadbare and silly, but that’s not important. What IS important are the Plaids…and they are terrific. Bell, Cearley, Mayne and McCarrell are completely believable as the 4 youths. And vocally, they shine! The music is a combination of 50’s standards and Christmas arrangements, all done in a beautiful close harmony. The group’s voices blend perfectly, and they sparkle individually as well.
The show is briskly paced, with just enough quiet reflection to allow the audience to keep up with the cast. The set is beautiful, a base set with enough drop-downs to change the flavor of the scene. Lighting is effective. And the choreography is stellar, changing styles as quickly as the Plaids change costumes.
This is a terrific holiday offering…non-traditional, certainly, yet immensely entertaining.
PLAID TIDINGS: Holiday Edition of Forever Plaid
by Stuart Ross
Directed by Gordon Greenberg, Musical Direction by Phil Reno, Choreography by Lorin Latarro
December 4-28, 2014
Bucks County Playhouse
70 South Main Street
New Hope, PA 18938