Cabrillo Stage aims to hit a high note with its festive new show, ‘Plaid Tidings’
It’s the Christmas season: trees, stockings, gifts, chestnuts … and pepper spray in faces while shopping. Things are both festive and chaotic at this time of year when the weather gets chilly and shoppers forget the reason for the season. A cure to the madness—get in touch with the nostalgic side of the holiday. Gather around a piano and sing a few classic tunes with family and friends. Sip some hot chocolate away from the crowds. Sit by a toasty fire and wrap gifts slowly and mindfully. And for a serious splash of holiday cheer, maintain the nostalgic sense of things by taking in an upbeat musical at Cabrillo Stage. On Dec. 16, the musical theater company launches “Plaid Tidings,” a sequel to the original show, “Forever Plaid,” which played at Cabrillo Stage in 2008. This show is full of glad tidings, slapstick jokes, and lots of old, memorable Christmas songs.
Directed by Andrew Ceglio, the musical follows four young men and picks up where they left off in “Forever Plaid.” In that story, the men had died and came back to finish a concert they were supposed to play. In this tale, they’re still dead, but they descend to Earth befuddled, wondering what they’re doing here. From the great beyond, Rosemary Clooney gives them a buzz and lets them know they’ve dropped in on the holidays in Aptos. This signals that they’re in fact there to perform once again, this time with a Christmas show. And so, of course, they break out into song over and over in this lively production, which is sure to be a hit. (Yours truly received a preview song during this interview and was admittedly blown away by the über talented four-man cast.)
The quartet includes Max Bennett-Parker playing the part of Frankie, a sort of den mother to the men; Matt Dunn plays Sparky, a class clown type of character; Sean Gorski takes on the role of Smudge, a guy who tends to over-think everything; and Tad Kistner plays Jinx, the kid brother of the group.
While the story is straightforward, the songs include surprising arrangements—watch for mixtures of some of your favorite holiday tunes. Throughout the course of the 90-minute production, audiences will be treated to hearing segments from nearly 50 songs. There will be old favorites like “Let It Snow,” “Jingle Bells,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and many others.
As the actors prepare to go on stage and perform these nostalgic tunes, they find themselves reminiscing about nostalgia itself. “‘Plaid’ was the first show I did for Cabrillo Stage,” says Bennett-Parker who is from Santa Cruz and has performed in five productions with the local musical theater company. Likewise, Kistner is returning for his second “Plaid” show and Ceglio is returning for his 11th production with the company in both acting and directing capacities.
In a way, this show is fundamentally about the spirit of the holidays, says Ceglio. “To put harmony into a discordant world, to spread some joy,” he adds. “The moral of the story is the holiday parable to keep the spirit of Christmas throughout the year and treat your fellow man [or woman] with compassion.”
“Plaid Tidings” runs Dec. 16-30 at the Cabrillo Crocker Theater, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos. Tickets are $16-$34. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 479-6154 or visit www.cabrillostage.com.