Twenty-two years ago, Stuart Ross created an off-Broadway musical that tribute-ed the young male groups of the fifties…Four Aces; ‘Tops’; 4 Freshmen, etc. The almost negligent plot told us the quartet were heading for their first major gig when their vehicle was T-boned by a bus taking young schoolgirls to the 1st Beatles appearance on Ed Sullivan. Scratch the 4 Plaids. The ‘Big Guy’ gives the foursome a one-day ‘Get out of Heaven, free’ -pass to put on that ill-fated concert! The musical went ‘main-stream’.
“Forever Plaid, Plaid Tidings” is the sequel and was originated in both Pasadena and Halifax. The latter has a local connection. Nova Scotia’s Neptune Theatre was directed at that time by Ron Ulrich who now runs Hamilton’s Aquarius! Anyhoo, HAMMER ENTERTAINMENT’s Jason Dick has recruited four young local singer/actors to reprise the plot’s continuation i.e. put on a Christmas version of the original. Dick emphasizes the comedic aspect as well as the countless musical numbers performed. By accentuating the idiosyncrasies of each of the four, the audience becomes familiar with and connected to Sparky; Jinx, Smudge and Frankie, –The Plaids.
Scott Styles is the group’s lead singer and the most outgoing of the quartet. He also must manipulate the others and thus also serves as M.C. for the audience. His major foil is Jinx and Taylor Yanke is Styles vertical opposite. Possessor of an adorable face and expressive eyes, his less than-perfect tone abilities are offset by his personality. The pessimistic & pedantic Smudge is well-cast. Mike Queripel has the physique and demeanor, as well as the speaking voice that perfectly phrases his character. Rounding out the team, Ryan Miller’s Frankie has a solo bit wherein he totally destroys the ‘Rudolf’ song by analysing the poor – ‘rangifer tarandus’ [species-Caribou] from a psychological dissection of the emotional effects due to his disassociation from the herd.
The on-stage piano accompaniment by Charles Henderson is faultless and never overpowering. Early in the show, there is a re-cap of the original musical which is performed as a pastiche of all the songs therein. It’s clever and challenging yet is one of the highlights of FP-PT. The other major hit is a redo of ‘Day-O’ and “Matilda” – she who – ♪ took me money & went Christmas Shopping, ♪
FOREVER PLAID, PLAID TIDINGS is a bit of fluff; but a welcome change from the usual & repetitious carolling to which we’re subjected during the season. Still, it does bestow some of the spirit of the holiday, leading this writer to paraphrase a wish for my readers; one of Plaid’s lyrics… Have a Yule that’s Cool. The show is at the Citadel Theatre, Rebecca St, until Dec. 15th.