Sunday, December 8, 2013

Plentiful Reasons For Seeing "Plaid Tidings" At The James F. Dean Theatre In Summerville

The high school harmony singing group called The Plaids are back from the land of the demised and made an appearance at the James F. Dean Theatre in Summerville. Decked out in their trademark plaid blazers and comber buns in the Flowertown Players presentation of Plaid Tidings, the quartet was full of the three E's - energy, enthusiasm, and eccentricity.

Plaid Tidings is a holiday musical revue written be Stuart Ross in 2001 shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11. The main purpose for writing the play was to lift the spirits of the people in the United States in the aftermath of those attacks.

It is the sequel to Forever Plaid where Frankie(Brandyn Williams), Jinx(L.D. Lewis), Smudge(Robert Venne), and Sparky(Brandon L. Joyner) while on their way to their first semiprofessional gig were killed instantly when their vehicle was broadsided by a school bus, but in a twist of fate are returned from the dead to perform the show they never got to perform while alive. In this sequel, they find themselves in the same situation.

The returned Plaids open by singing some of their old hits, but after realize they do not quite know why they have been returned. Smudge informs the audience one of their dreams was to perform a holiday special of their own. The four of them next break out with a medley of traditional holiday songs. The reason soon becomes clarified.

Sparky hears a ringing on stage and picks the object up. He asks one of the people in the audience what the strange, ringing object is, at which the lady informs him it is a phone. They listen to the voice who identifies itself as Rosemary Clooney calling to inform them that their mission is to spread a little harmony into a discordant world with some holiday cheer.

This is an audience participation musical with non-stop singing and playful shenanigans by the cast. The somewhat quirky foursome performed an entertaining musical skit with plungers as microphones and the audience expressed their approval with a resounding applause.

Brandyn Williams displayed his piano skills after the piano guy(David McLaughlin who by-the-way did a professional job at pounding out the tunes on the ivories) took an unexpected break and the whole group harmoniously rang the bells with the assistance of a young lady picked from the audience. Topping out the highlights was a Plaid Caribbean Christmas complete with bongos and palm trees and a fast-moving, prop-filled medley of Plaid-erized tunes including a version of "The Ed Sullivan Show" that will give you a warm and fuzzy feeling.

I sat close enough to see the melodious sweat beads of Brandon's expended energy, the noteworthy enthusiasm on Brandyn's smiling face, the eccentrically stuttering body language of Robert, and the 'tis the season green tongue of L.D. Lewis. The foursome put their whole hearts and departed souls into their performances. David Joyner made a brief appearance as Perry Como and Joe Gorman supplied the Voice.

So, take this advice from Frankie and the gang: Don't take your money and run to Venezuela, take your money and run to the James F. Dean Theatre sometime between now and December 22 to spend the evening celebrating the music of the season with The Plaids-tickets.