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Theater Review: "Plaid Tidings"

Cast of "Plaid Tidings"
Photo credit:
Ken Jacques

Remember Forever Plaid, that hapless close-harmony quartet that bashed into a busful of Catholic schoolgirls on their way to the Ed Sullivan Show back in 1964?

The girls were not hurt, the Plaids became instant angels, and every now and then St. Peter sends the guys back to earth for one reason or another.

Unsure why they’ve been sent back this time, they spend the first act reprising their last show with songs like “Moments to Remember,” “Perfidia” and “Sh’boom” (with toilet plungers – don’t ask) while trying to puzzle out their “mission,” as St. Pete puts it.

Fortunately, Rosemary Clooney rescues them with a cell phone call from Up There, clueing them in that it’s about Christmas.

So they move into holiday mode and play bells (with the help of an audience “volunteer”), sing backup to a Perry Como video, and pay hilarious homage to that ultimate outsider Rudolph, who “would never blend in, never be truly happy – and might make a great Plaid.”

This time they’ve been sent to the Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido, where they’re in singing residence through Dec. 31.

The guys – Sparky (JD Dumas), Smudge (Chaz Feuerstine), Jinx (Luke H. Jacobs) and Frankie (Bryan Banville) – are all fine singing actors. (I admit to a preference for Dumas’ soaring tones.) 

Fortunately, they can dance, too, and it’s a good thing, since director/ choreographer David Humphrey puts them through their paces.

Providing excellent musical backup are Musical director/pianist Justin Gray and bassist Martin Martiarena, playing from the stage.

You’ll get a wide assortment of holiday songs, from the traditional to calypso to Steve Allen’s “Cool Yule” and Brad Ellis’ wildly high-tech “Twuz Tha Nite B4 Xmas.”

Plaid fans, take note: Included is the much-loved Ed Sullivan holiday special, played at breakneck speed in three minutes and change, including the Vienna Choir Boys, Birgit Nilsson, the Chipmunks and those crazy dish jugglers. It’s a hoot.

The Plaids have been around – and packing houses internationally – since 1989. An interesting note: “Plaid Tidings” was written in 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

Christmas is a joyful, but – let’s face it – stressful time, so take a break from all the hubbub with good old ’60s close harmony à la the Hi-Lo’s and Four Freshmen. 

The details

“Plaid Tidings” plays through December 31, 2016 at Welk Resort Theatre San Diego, 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive in Escondido.

Wednesday and Sunday at 1 pm; Thursday and Saturday at 1 and 8 pm

Tickets: (888) 802-7469 or welkresorts.com