BWW Review: Have a Cool Yule at Lyric Arts' Retro FOREVER PLAID: PLAID TIDINGS
For the 2017 season, enjoy the sights and sounds to "Have a yule that's cool" at Anoka's Lyric Arts. The retro greeting tag line recreates the theater's holiday show titled Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings. Stuart Ross wrote the clever, lighthearted book to this festive musical in 1989, along with numerous composers creating the music and lyrics. The seasonal show delights audiences this December under Director Sean W. Byrd through a kitschy ambiance. Musical Director Bradley Beahen together with Choreographer Lauri Kraft give this all male quartet excellent stage presence for two acts. The four "lads" who call themselves Forever Plaid deliver the holiday goods while Beahen accompanies on the ivories with Shannon Van der Reck plucking strings on bass,
Under this accomplished technical support, Maxwell Emmett Ward (Francis), Jake Speikers (Sparky), Christopher Vance (Jinx) and Armando Harlow Ronconi (Smudge) recreate this charming foursome. To begin the evening, Forever Plaid, a guy group direct from the 1960's, has been redirected back to earth after a car accident cut the group's recording career short. On this second return to earth, the four dance, laugh and sing their way into the holiday season after trying to determine why they were re-returned to the stage-perhaps to accompany Perry Como on his Christmas special?
Each character in this engaging, if slightly stressed singing group, shapes their unique personality, often accompanied with a solo appearance-such as Smudge's "The Night Before Christmas" or Smudge in "Let it Snow." A show topping Caribbean number combines "Christmas in Kingston Market" and Mathilda" for a "Christmas Calypso." The sunny songs with syncopated beats include all four Plaids in an upbeat take on celebrating Christmas in another clime. Also relish Sparky's "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" in all his merry dysfunction for the bullied deer who's eventually redeemed to guide Santa's sleigh.
During the second act, Forever Plaid channels the popular crooner Perry Como dressed in his iconic red cardigan, complete with a video clip from the television special. Fast paced, fun and filled with furious, albeit sometimes kitschy humor, one number reminisces "The Ed Sullivan Show,' complete with Topo Gigio-for theses who might remember the tiny, Italian talking mouse.
Perhaps in the midst of these happy memories and bits of joy from a simpler time in history, Forever Plaid touches the audience with appreciated nostalgia, These familiar songs and past holiday memories remind each of the audience they can also "hang a wish on Christmas tree or dream "about your heart's desire." Celebrate this year's end when this retro quartet wishing audiences a "cool yule" announces "we all have the destiny to create a little harmony this year." Chuckle and smile during any holiday festivities this season to channel those Forever Plaids with glad tidings. Whether attending a business, home or family event, create of a little harmony wherever one might land.
Lyric Arts presents Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings in Anoka at 420 East Main Street through December 23. For performance schedule in repertory with A Coney Island Christmas or tickets, please visit www.lyricarts.org.