Sunday, November 23, 2003

Plaid Tidings (Cleveland Play House)

‘PLAID TIDINGS’ happily rings in the holiday at CPH

It’s that time of year again. Entertainment centers are raising their curtains on ‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL,’ ‘THE NUTCRACKER’ and a lot of other holiday treats. Why should the Cleveland Play House be different?

Cleveland audiences have had a long time love-affair with the Plaid offerings. ‘FOREVER PLAID,’ this show’s predecessor, re-opened the Allen Theatre in Play House Square. ‘PLAIN\D TIDINGS’ has been performed two other times in the country, but it has been re-written for the CPH presentation and is being called a “near premiere performance”

Just before the opening night performance, CPH Artistic Director Peter Hackett, in a delightful speech, informed the audience that Randy Rineck, one of the performers, had laryngitis and was being replaced by the show’s Associate Director Robert Randle. The audience, in a jovial mood (the gala party before the show had “whetted” many throats) just took it all in. The substitution mattered little as the show went on with nary a hitch.

Complete with boy-group gestures of the 50s, the quartet, mellowed-in with tributes to Rosemary Clooney, the Ed Sullivan Show, and Perry Como. They used gimmicks galore to delight the audience. Sing alongs, audience participation, bell interludes, and video clips all added to the fun.

“Let It Snow” was a total delight. The beat version of “Twuz Duh Night Before Christmas” was met with prolonged applause. A cleverly staged “Matilda, Matilda” complete with Italian, Hawaiian, Spanish, Irish and Jewish calypso was a show stopper.
You name the holiday song it was included, plus some.

The cast, consisting of Jody Ashworth, Jonathan Brody, Scott Fedderly and Robert Randle were very good. Fedderly, who has a fine voice, an electric stage presence and can dance, was especially good.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: Some might say that ‘PLAID TIDINGS,’ a musical review with a meager plot and oft-done holiday songs, is not an appropriate offering for a theatre which proposes to be “one of the greatest theatres in America.” Well, BAH, HUMBUG! If you want to sit back, feel good, and escape from the world’s problems...’PLAID TIDINGS’ is your thing!