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Friday, 12 November, 2010 1:11 AM
'Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings' is exceptional at Detroit's Gem Theatre
DETROIT -- It's hard to write about a Christmas musical when it's 60 degrees outside. But here goes...The setting is 1964 in west Pennsylvania. Four guys dressed in plaid suits are on the way to see the Beatles at The Ed Sullivan Show in New York City. The Plaid men end up in Detroit, but they aren't sure why. They enter from the back of the main floor of the Gem Theatre and each is carrying a candle. One man is carrying a suitcase. They climbed the stairs and walked on the stage. Then, the four guys tested out the microphones.
Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings was written by Stuart Ross. Scott Barnhardt, Bradley Beahan, Jared Gertner and Kevin Vortmann are the stars of the musical. It is directed and choreographed by Mark Martino. Harvey Kahl is the musical director and piano player while Ralph Armstrong plays the bass.
There are many Christmas carols in the musical that one will remember. Some of the songs are sung entirely while others are only sung for a few verses. Attendees will hear the songs "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing," "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," "Jingle Bells," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and many others.
The four Plaid men perform many stunts such as using a plunger as microphone, reading a note from Rosemary Clooney that falls from above, bringing an audience member on stage to ring bells and much more. They also took two palm trees with Christmas lights on them and placed them in the middle of the crowd.
"For over a decade, I resisted creating a holiday sequel based on Forever Plaid," said playwright Stuart Ross in the playbill. "I tried to explain this when I was approached to create a follow up to FP. However, right after 9/11, I was approached by the Pasadena Playhouse to create a Holiday edition of Plaid. After the first year of the show, various other theatres asked if they could do Plaid Tidings. Here's hoping a little toasty, cozy, musical, holiday cheer will put you in the mood to appreciate all the good stuff that is always around us."
My favorite part of the musical is towards the end when they show clips from the former NBC show, Perry Como on a chalkboard of all places. The Plaid guys sing background vocals as Perry Como is singing on the screen. Then, the guys recreated an episode of the former CBS series, The Ed Sullivan Show in only three minutes while singing a Christmas tune.
A group of students from Rochester Hills opened the show. There were 11 girls and one boy in this a cappella singing group. They performed three songs to kickoff the evening -- "Joy to the World," "The First Noel" and "Silent Night."
The musical lasts for about two hours and 15 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission. The Plaid guys make one costume change from the plaid suits in the first half to red button down sweaters with plaid ties in the second half.
Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings starts out kind of slow. Don't leave! It gets a lot more exciting towards the end of the first half and even better in the whole second half. I think the cast took too much time with the set-up in the beginning than they should have. The best time to see the musical is when it starts snowing outside to get you in the holiday spirit. It runs through December 31 at the historic Gem Theatre in downtown Detroit.
The Historic Gem Theatre invites you to spend your holidays with them at Plaid Tidings. A special holiday sequel to the critically acclaimed Forever Plaid. Tickets for ($ 27.50 – $32.50) go on sale Friday, August 27, 2010 through the Gem Theatre box office (313) 963-9800, Ticketmaster charge by phone (800) 982-2787, at all Ticketmaster Ticketcenters and online at Ticketmaster.com. Call the Gem Box office for dinner and group discount packages.
Click Here to Win FREE Tickets to see "Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings" at the historic Gem Theatre in downtown Detroit.
Photo credit: www.gemtheatre.com
"Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings" November 10 - December 31, 2010 at The Gem.
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