By James Cullum
If you want to see an entertaining holiday show this season, you’ll want to catch the second act of the Little Theatre of Alexandria’s Plaid Tidings. In this show, our heroes “the Plaids”, Franki (Doug Sanford), Jinx (Troy Miller), Sparky (Matt Williams) and Smudge (Jim Carmalt) return to earth at the behest of a phone call from Rosemary Clooney to perform a holiday show. If you like old Andy Williams Christmas Specials, you’ll love the second act of this show.
But why only the second act?
See, in 1964, the Plaids were killed instantly when their bus was hit by a bus full of teens going to the Ed Sullivan Theater to watch the Beatles. They have drifted in the cosmos ever since. This is the second time their presence has graced the Little Theatre’s stage, the first time occurring 13 years ago in the popular “Forever Plaid”.
The first act is so-so, with long periods of time spent looking down quizzically at the Christmas-red program and wondering when the Christmas songs are going to start. The flimsy plot should be treated as such since there are four microphones, a piano player and a bass player on stage. But a lot of time is spent by the foursome trying to figure out why they have returned to earth, despite the fact that they are all wearing holiday-inspired clothing.
Finally, Smudge breaks the ice 45 minutes into the show with a solo of “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and you think that by this point the holiday spirit in the room is about as high as it’s going to get and that the rest of the show should be full of Christmas songs. Well, you’re wrong. There still is a lot of plot to act out in addition to “Besame Mucho”, “Kiss of Fire”, “Mambo Italiano”, “Hey There” and “Fever”.
During all of this, it seemed that the Plaids and the piano player, Susan Maher, had different agendas. The synchronization of the operation didn’t flow smoothly until the final three songs of the act: “The Christmas Song”, “Holiday Catering Drill” and “Christmas Calypso”.
The second act is the Christmas show the Plaids would have performed if they had lived. The group sings “Let it Snow”, “Joy To The World”, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and many others. The crowd really enjoyed it. Sanford, who performed in the original show has a great voice and leads the group. Miller and Carmalt also sang in the original show. Miller has a distinctive, clear voice and he carried off difficult solos with ease. Carmalt has a great voice and Williams, the only newcomer, fits in well.
If you can last through the first act, the second will certainly get you into the holiday spirit.
The show is being performed until Dec. 20.