Review | Plaid Tidings
There’s a moment in the Avengers movie where the character Loki is talking to the alien The Other about warring with Earth. Loki says the battle will be “glorious, but brief”. And that’s my sentiment exactly about the Civic Light Opera’s newest show at the Cabaret, Plaid Tidings. Full of nostalgia, amazing songs and great humor, the show flew by at two hours (including intermission). Like I said: glorious but brief.
The story of Plaid Tidings is simple, the quartet from the 1950s, Sparky (Eric Longo), Smudge (Billy Hepfinger), Jinx (Brandon Lambert) and Frankie (Quinn Patrick Shannon) have come back down to earth as part of a heavenly test. They realize, through some hysterical trial and error—and help from Rosemary Clooney—that they’re goal is to put on the holiday show they never could while they were alive. And once that understanding dawns, it’s a what’s what and a I love that song! parade of some of the best and most classic Christmas carols.
The four cast members wrap excellent vocals around songs like The Christmas Song, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Mr. Santa, Merry Christmas and I’ll Be Home For Christmas. They also got to put some clever spins on some classic tunes, like when Brandon Lambert showcased a range as extraordinary as a baby grande piano in the mash-up of Besame Mucho and Kiss of Fire. It was easily one of the biggest arrangements of the entire show and really got the crowd laughing. The gag with the microphone stand is worth the price of admission alone. Quinn Patrick Shannon shined as the leader of the quartet with his smooth tone and ever-changing facial expressions—a quirk of his right eyebrow sent the crowd into hysterics. His monologue about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was a show stealer. Eric Longo killed it during the Kingston Market and Ed Sullivan routines and Billy Hepfinger was once again pure joy as the bumbling, sweet, silly Smudge. (Always my favorite character.)
And of course, we cannot forget the glue that held the entire show together: pianist Camille Villalpando Rolla and Bassist Jeff Mangone, Sr. They were incredible and every note was pitch perfect. Music Director Michael Moricz, Lighting Designer Andrew David Ostrowski and Production Stage Manager Tim Brady were marvelous with how seamlessly and naturally the whole production went by.
Finally, much kudos needs to be given to director and choreographer Guy Stroman, working off a book by Stuart Ross. Much like the holidays themselves, Plaid Tidings is infused with cheer and friends and family, but also with moments of yearning and longing for times gone by, chances lost, and dreams almost realized. It was a pleasant surprise to watch how much depth this holiday show had to it.
The show got a standing ovation when the last song was sung. I have a feeling it will continue to always get a standing ovation.
*The show is playing now until January 12. For more ticketing info, check out here.