Thursday, December 23, 2010
Plaid is in this holiday
By ANNE KAZMIERCZAK
One expects a play about a 50s boy band to have harmony and style. Add an element of Christmas, and one settles in for an evening of cozy comfort.
Unexpected are the belly laughs the quartet exudes from the audience through their clever word play and silly antics.
The non-stop Plaid Tidings plays tonight, Friday and Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday and Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. at the Warehouse Theatre, 203 S. Jefferson Ave.
Dessert precedes the performances by 1/2 hour; tickets, $15 general and $10 students, are available at Sophisticated Rose, 19 S. Jefferson Ave., or at the door an hour before each performance.
Plaid Tidings is a sort-of sequel to Stuart Ross’ Forever Plaid, a whimsical lark about a young quartet killed in a collision en route to their first big gig. The Beatles got the fame; the Plaids got their wings.
Plaid Tidings was written, Ross says in the program notes, after the sorrows of 9/11 warranted “a little joy and fun to lift the spirits.”
In this incarnation, the Plaids return, confused as to their purpose.
Through song after song after song — many a delightful mash up medley — the gang hopes to discern why they were brought back to Earth.
AS THE PLAIDS, four local men command the audience’s attention.
Skylar Strickler plays ring-leader Frankie; David Gilham is more reserved Sparky; Bill Wolf is a natural as Smudge and Bryan Johnson, as the nose bleed-prone Jinx, soldiers on, at times with tufts of cotton sprouting from his nostrils.
Each man is given a chance to front the show as the evening progresses.
Strickler’s pure showmanship and clear tenor voice prove he will go far. Currently a student at Allen County Community College, Strickler leaves soon for Wichita State where he will major in music and performance.
Wolf, a financial advisor, has a rich bass voice that anchors the group. Gilham is most adept at a long spoken part in Act II, where the words are as rapid-fire as the songs in the rest of the show.
Bryan Johnson has the highest singing tone, clear as a bell, with a playfulness to his performance befitting the season.
All the actors break the fourth wall, engaging the audience directly throughout the show. They also reference musicians Treca Jackson, piano, Tom Wheat, bass, and Todd Willis, percussion, rending the invisible wall behind them as well.
The players’ skill is such that one quickly forgets live musicians are present — they play at the perfect level to be appreciated without overwhelming the singers.
A large crew keeps props, lights and sound spot-on. Credit must be given to costumers for taffeta plaid blazers, Mexican sombreros and Santa hats. Kim Strickler directs.
Simply put: see the show. It will add sparkle to your holiday season.