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'Plaid Tidings'

For its holiday show Oregon Cabaret Theatre will be featuring that close-harmony guy group from the 1960s, the Plaids in "Plaid Tidings." OCT artistic director Jim Giancarlo decided to bring the guys back after two successful runs of "Forever Plaid," which introduced local audiences to the group.

The show will play at 8 p.m. nightly and 1 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 16 through Dec. 31 except Nov. 19, 22, 27; Dec. 4, 11, 18, 24-25.

The story goes that the lads met an untimely end back in 1963 when their car was hit broadside by a bus full of Catholic schoolgirls on their way to see the Beatles make their first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." The girls were unharmed, but all four of the boys ended up going to heaven where their voices joined the heavenly chorus. But, because of holes in the ozone layer, the boys were able to return to Earth to present the show they never got to do in life. That show was "Forever Plaid."

The boys are back again. This time they have been sent on an undisclosed heavenly mission to perform unspecified "Harmonal duties." It had always been a big dream of theirs to do a TV Christmas special, Giancarlo revealed. But they don't have any Christmas songs in their repertoire — they only did one show. So, change a few lyrics here and there and you've got some holiday songs.

Another dream of the Plaids, according to Giancarlo, was to be backup for their idol, Perry Como. They just might get their chance. And maybe even a shot at the Ed Sullivan Show.

Directing this magical musical adventure is Todd Nielsen. This is Nielsen's first directing assignment at the Cabaret, though he has extensive directing credits, including being the resident director of "The Lion King" in San Francisco and Chicago.

"It's all done with complete earnestness, sincerity and honesty," Nielsen said of "Plaid Tidings." "That's where the humor comes from. It's a great retrospective of what that era was all about before rock 'n' roll really hit hard, before teenage rebellion. It was a time when parents and their children listened to the same music."

John Taylor is musical director for the show. He was musical director for "5 Guys Named Moe" at the Cabaret. He will also be the show's pianist, joined by Bruce McKern on string bass.

"The music is great," Taylor said. "I like the fact that there's jazz in it. It's a fun score. It's challenging. Stylistically it changes a lot."

Set and lighting design are by Craig Hudson. Costume design is by Kerri Lea Robbins. The technical director is Michael Halderman and the stage manager is Kathleen Mahoney.

Reprising his role as Sparky is Marc Swan, from Ashland, who has also appeared at OCT in "Smokey Joe's Café," "Tapestry" and "Snow White & Several Dweebs." All the other actor-singers are making their Cabaret and "Plaid" debuts. Playing Frankie, the leader of the group, is Adam Corcoran from New York City. A graduate of the Hartt School, Corcoran's credits include the Surflight Theatre, Lakes Region Summer Theatre and Crown Uptown Dinner Theatre.

Jinx, the first tenor and the baby of the group, is played by David Shane, also from New York, who has appeared at the Weathervane Playhouse, Bristol Valley Theatre and the Crown Uptown Dinner Theatre. Completing the cast as Smudge is Danny Webber, who is from Walnut Creek and has performed with Shotgun Players, Crossroads Theatre and Woodland Theatre.

Taylor is very happy to work with this cast. "For four guys who have never sung together they have a nice composite sound, beautiful timbre," Taylor said.

"Plaid Tidings" features such period songs as: "Stranger in Paradise," "Sh-Boom," "Mambo Italiano," "Hey There," "Besame Mucho." And there are some holiday favorites: "The Night Before Christmas," "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer," "Let It Snow," "Cool Yule," "Joy to the World," "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," "Carol of the Bells" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

Tickets are $19-$29. Gourmet dining and brunch are available with advance reservations. Appetizers, desserts and beverages are available without reservations.

See www.oregoncabaret.com or call 488-2902.

David Shane, Adam Corcoran, Danny Webber and Marc Swan appear in the Oregon Cabaret Theatre's production of 'Forever Plaid.' - Photo by Christopher Briscoe