Archikulture Digest

Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings

Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings

By Stuart Ross

Direction and choreography by Steven Flaa

Musical Direction by Chris Leavy

With Kevin Kelly, Michael Swickard, Todd Allen Long, and Brian Wettstein

Winter Park Playhouse

Winter Park, FL</strong>p

One day you’re swimming in the back yard and the next you hear the Salvation Army is ringing bells at Publix. Something is wrong here. Maybe this show was the catalyst; it’s got the right mix of holiday magic and surrealism to kick off this season of holiday “Stories” and “Carols” and glurge filled “Specials.” But it’s a fun way into the season, the guys never finish a Carol and it sticks to what works best on this stage: musical excellence and light comedy. You may be familiar with the story of the “Plaids” but here is the retrospective: in 1959 these four harmonizers get wiped out in a traffic accident; then like the Flying Dutchman they occasionally return to Earth to advance their career in the afterlife for reasons thankfully never explained. We appreciate that; music hall theology is always painful. The boys arrive, find live mikes, and God from Inside the Machine (aka “The Booth”) communicates to them though faulty electrical wiring and saliva-covered messages. Musically it’s all over the map; the set list in the program is a little deceptive as not all sungs are song for more than a few bars. Some highlights include “Sh-Boom” and “Mambo Italiano” along with Smudge’s (Long) “Let It Snow” complete with real fake snow.” But it’s the and the engaging “Christmas Calypso” that steals your heart and wraps up Act One.

What stands out here are two things: a genuinely funny and off color joke from Heather Alexander (tonight’s bartender) and a parody of the Ed Sullivan Show. You really have to be a certain age to remember Ed Sullivan and collecting Social Security makes you eligible. Sullivan was one of the early “variety shows” on the old 12 inch B&W Philco. It really was the last gasp of Vaudeville; and tonight the Plaid’s tackle Topo Gigio, Jose Jimenez, the Vienna Boys’ Choir, Señor Wences and a dozen other once famous but now obscure acts. The crowd loved it, and it was the funniest thing I’ve seen on that stage a long time. Yes, it’s a “holiday” show and if you need to see one this one is funnier and less guilt inducing than the Dickens parade. Just keep an eye out for a gift in a box from the lobby.

For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit


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