Plaid Tidings at Enlightened Theatrics, a musical revue written by Stuart Ross, directed and choreographed by Charlie Johnson, is a delightful family experience and a happy distraction this holiday season.
The play is technically a sequel to Forever Plaid, but no prior experience is necessary to enjoy any aspect of the evening. The premise is that the four members of a 1950s doo-wop group—all nice guys—were killed in a car crash in 1964, and their ghosts have been sent back to earth. The paper-thin plot depends on the boys discovering why they have returned before something dreadful and ambiguous happens. (Spoiler alert: Their purpose is to put on a Christmas show.) The story is mostly an excuse to string together a collection of doo-wop hits, classic Christmas tunes, and innovative medleys.
Enlightened Theatrics traditionally mixes local actors with out-of-town talent. This time around, all four boys hail from New York. In order of height: Jinx (Nick Martinez), the hapless one; Franky (Taylor Murphy) the cute one; Sparky (Carl Glenn), the funny one; Smudge (Clark Kinkade), the tall one (and my personal favorite for the baritone). The quartet harmonize flawlessly, continuing Enlightened’s reputation for musical excellence. The most entertaining songs were the mash-ups: a pseudo-sexy, pseudo-comic “Besame Mucho” and a hilarious calypso Christmas, set to Harry Belafonte.
However, Plaid Tidings is much more than a musical revue. Each song has a joke—or several. The repartee and relationships keep the action moving between sets, and each Plaid gets a chance to tell a more dramatic story. There is also no fourth wall to speak of, so there is constant interplay between actors and audience (even a chance to come on stage!)
The crowd when I went on a Wednesday night was lively and enthusiastic. The audience was mostly older, but I think the show is funny enough and active enough (and it is certainly clean enough) to entertain the whole family. If you are in the mood for some light-hearted entertainment, this is a sure thing. As the Plaids say, “everyone has the ability to create a little harmony.” Plaid Tidings plays through December 11.
Don’t like music? Lucky for you, there is a full slate in and around Salem this month:
• The Night Before Christmas, at The Verona Studio. A cheeky, adult, British Christmas story. Through December 17.
• It’s a Wonderful Life. Teen version, by S.K.I.T. (Salem-Keizer Inspirational Teen) Theatre. Through Dec. 17.
• Uh Oh, Here Comes Christmas, at Aumsville Community Theatre. A collection of holiday stories from multiple perspectives. Recommended for kids 10 and over. Through Dec. 18.
• Looking for something Christmas week? Try A Christmas Carol: A 1940s Radio Show, by Theatre 33. Live sound effects and Theatre 33’s talented cast. Dec. 20–23.