Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

Plaid Tidings
Clague Playhouse
Review by Mark Horning

Also see Mark's reviews of The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat


Victor Trejgut, Noah Furin, Joey Hook
and Jeremy M. Harper

Photo Courtesy of Clague Playhouse
In the beginning there was Forever Plaid, The tale about four lads in the 1950s who as high school friends had formed a close harmony group much like The Four Aces or Four Freshmen. The Plaids are made up of Sparky (Noah Furin), Jinx (Jeremy M. Harper), Frankie (Joey Hooks), and Smudge (Victor Trejgut) and personify the clean-cut genre prevalent in that era. Their dream was to record an album followed by an appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

As the lads were driving one night to their first big break, those dreams were dashed when they were killed instantly in a collision with a school bus filled with Catholic schoolgirls (none of whom were harmed) on their way to see the American debut of the Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Forever Plaid was the quartet's return from the afterlife for one final show, singing such standards as "Three Coins in a Fountain," "Moments to Remember," "Shangri-La," and more.

Fast forward to the present and the lads have been once more sent down from above and have landed on the stage at Clague Playhouse with no clue as to why they are back on earth. Every time they launch into one of their standards they are interrupted by lightning and thunder as the boys attempt to solve the riddle of what kind of show they should perform. Notes are found in their suits, leaflets fall from the sky, and a celestial phone call from Rosemary Clooney finally have The Plaids realizing that a holiday show is what is demanded of them.

The problem is, since their music is made up of old standards, they do not have much in the way of a Christmas inspired repertoire. Not a problem, as they do an about face and rework their classics with a semblance of holiday spirit. In short, they Christmastize their entire set with hilarious results.

Suddenly, snippets of 39 pop tunes from the '50s sneak their way into 18 faux holiday renderings as the lads sing "We Wish You a Perry (Como) Christmas" and a hip-hop inspired "Cool Yule"—"Mr. Sandman" becomes "Mr. Santa." A solo "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer" becomes a rant about the different and oppressed who are only summoned when a special skill is required to save the day, as the singled out Plaid sits with reindeer antlers and a red nose. There is also a delightful send-up of a holiday "Ed Sullivan Show" in which two hours is sped through in three minutes.

This is the perfect intimate show for the 100-seat Clague Playhouse, and it is enjoying sellout crowds with good reason. The four young men (three currently attending North Olmsted High School and the fourth a student at Cleveland State University) are a delightful mismatch of personalities, looks, and singing styles that somehow blend together into perfect harmony. While not up to par with the likes of The Four Seasons, what the group lacks in polish is made up for with enthusiasm and stage presence. In short, they are a very likable group performing a cute show.

The show is sparkling clean and safe for the entire family, and The Four Plaids fill the small stage area well with accompanying piano (David Bird) and bass (Ken Kessler) behind them in an alcove. It's a nice holiday treat that you will find delightful as you head into the mind numbing holiday season.

Some seats are still available for Plaid Tidings, which will be on stage at the Clague Playhouse through December 19, 2016. The Playhouse is located at 1371 Clague Road in Westlake, Ohio. Tickets may be purchased by calling (440) 331-0403 or online at clagueplayhouse.org


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