by Shirley Lorraine
Plaid Tidings hits all the right holiday notes
The holiday season is a time to enjoy familiar tunes, tons of laughter, friendship and all things red, green and festive. The Rubicon Theatre Company brings all this and more to their stage as 2019 comes to a close.
Plaid Tidings, a special holiday edition of the popular musical Forever Plaid, tells the story of a quartet of lovable, slightly nerdy musicians whose careers are cut short in an auto accident one fateful night. They are given the opportunity to come down to Earth to perform the holiday show they couldn’t complete in life.
And what a show it is. Written and directed by the Original Creator, Stuart Ross, Plaid Tidings is simply heavenly from start to big finish. It has warmth, an abundance of humor, great harmonies, toe-tapping choreography, and four highly multi-talented young men with sparkles in their eyes to delight the audience throughout. For me, it is one of those shows I didn’t want to end, it was so captivating and enjoyable.
All four of the Plaids come with extensive theater credits and it shows. Sean Bell, Adolpho Blaire, Zak Edwards and Joshua David Cavanaugh each bring a wide range of skills to delight and amuse. They each shine in their solo areas as well as complementing each other beautifully.
Interspersed with holiday tunes are familiar refrains from the 50’s and 60’s such as “Hey There,” “Fever” and “Matilda” (with a twist). The Plaids even geta little heavenly help from Rosemary Clooney and inspiration from Perry Como.
A three-minute rendition of an entire Ed Sullivan Show features well known elements and much hilarity as the four frantically pack in more than one would think possible. It’s great fun and a bit nostalgic.
Accompanying the quartet is a piano and a bass, led by Musical Director Andrew M. Chukerman. The seemingly simple setting is like a magician’s box of tricks, with props and details appearing in surprising ways. The entire theater is strung with holiday lights, adding to the beauty and the general festivities to sustain the holiday mood.
Ross made some alterations to the ever-in-progress script to customize some areas for Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre, adding a quite personal element to the performance. The actors speak directly to the audience at times and even enlist the assistance of a few to move their story along. He also makes use of some of the actor’s special talents, such as Edwards on accordion, a soft-shoe for Bell and more. As Ross relates, he enjoys “creating a special and unique production” for each cast and the theater in which they perform.
If you love holiday music and can attend only one holiday performance this season, I heartily recommend this one. Take your family. Share it with a friend. Enjoy.
Plaid Tidings runs through December 29. Performances are Wednesdays at 2 and 7 p.m. Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Rubicon Theater, 1006 E. Main St, Ventura. (805) 667-2900 for tickets. Prices vary.