Dec. 4 2013 12:54 PM

Clean-cut musical at New Village Arts Theatre tops our coverage of local plays

From left: Daniel Filippi, Conor Tibbs, Bryan Banville and Charles Evans
Photo by Daren Scott

When was the last time you heard the immortal names Perry Como and Topo Gigio spoken in a theater? Never?

You will at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad, where nostalgia is served up like peppermint eggnog this holiday season, courtesy of Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings. (In case you're wondering, Perry Como was a clean-cut crooner famous for his Kraft Musical Hall show, and Topo Gigio was a talking mouse puppet who frequently appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Consider yourself educated.) Now, if you don't know what Forever Plaid is, you've undoubtedly been hibernating for the past 23 years.

It's an off-Broadway revue written by Stuart Ross that features a straight-arrow guy group pranking on stage and singing the likes of "Three Coins in the Fountain" and "Lady of Spain." A holiday-oriented sequel, Plaid Tidings, was on stage last year at New Village Arts Theatre, and now it's back, with a bit of tinkering, under the direction of Jason Heil.

Like eggnog, a little Plaid goes a long way, and this show—about the guys (Bryan Banville, Charles Evans, Daniel Filippi and Conor Tibbs) returning from the afterlife to perform a "special" concert—runs about a half-hour longer than it should. Though its repertoire includes not only familiar carols as well as past Plaid favorites, the good tidings here have more to do with the choreography (by David S. Humphrey) and the comic hijinks between tunes. Tibbs (as Jinx) and Plaid newcomer Filippi (as Smudge) merit most of the laughs. As for the arc of the show, there's less filler in Act 2, which is when Como and Topo get their due. The bits are amusing, even if you aren't up on your TV trivia.

It's that time of year, theater-wise, when more ambitious fare goes on hiatus, for the most part, and frothy shows like this one take center stage. Some are awful while others are just OK, and there's always that dependable Grinch over in Balboa Park. At least Plaid Tidings avoids wallowing in overt holiday sentimentality, and its collective heart is in the right place. Perry Como must be gazing down from the heavens and smiling. And crooning.

Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings runs through Dec. 31. $22-$43.

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A Year with Frog and Toad: Yep, this is a family-oriented musical based on the beloved Frog and Toad children's books. Presented by Oceanside Theatre Company, it opens Dec. 6 at The Brooks Theatre.

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues: An adult-oriented dark comedy in which the reindeer have some things to say about ol' St. Nick. Presented by Different Stages, it opens Dec. 7 at Swedenborg Hall in University Heights.

Scrooge in Rouge: San Diego's LGBT theater sends up the Dickens classic with a fast-paced music-and-comedy extravaganza. Opens Dec. 5 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights.

Now playing

The Gift Teller: Playwright, director and screenwriter Stephen Metcalfe's update of A Gift of the Magi gets a world premiere. Through Dec. 8 at Scripps Ranch Theatre.

Million Dollar Quartet: A musical-theater representation of an impromptu jam session involving Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash at Sun Records. Presented by Broadway San Diego, it runs through Dec. 8 at the Civics Theatre, Downtown.

Skinless: The opening play of Moxie Theatre's ninth season follows a student who bases her dissertation on an obscure horror and sci-fi writer and gets more than she bargained for. Through Dec. 8 at Moxie Theatre in Rolando.

Venus in Fur: A writer-director who's created an adaptation of the novel Venus in Furs gets the tables turned on him by an actress who insists on reading for the lead role. Presented by San Diego Repertory Theatre, it runs through Dec. 8 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown.

Side Show: A musical based on a true story about conjoined twins and circus-freak-show performers Violet and Daisy Hilton, who find fame as a vaudeville act and search for true love. Through Dec. 15 at La Jolla Playhouse. 

A Christmas Carole: Cygnet Theatre continues its tradition of presenting the holiday classic in the style of a radio play, complete with old-timey commercials. Through Dec. 22 at The Old Town Theatre.

Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge: Christopher Durang's musical spoof of A Christmas Carol supposes that Gladys Cratchit is an angry, boozing, modern American woman who happens to have 21 kids. Through Dec. 22 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: This'll be the 16th year that the green one will slink onto the stage at The Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park. "Fah Who Doraze," indeed. Through Dec. 28.

Reasons to be Pretty: In Neil LaBute's plain-spoken comedy, four blue-collar characters wrestle with notions of physical beauty and the power of modern-day language. Presented by Ion Theatre Company, it runs through Dec. 28 at BLKBOX Theatre in Hillcrest.

Catch a Falling Star: Lambs Players' holiday play this year revolves around a woman's attempt to film a musical Christmas card at a remote mountain cabin that was meaningful to her father. Through Dec. 29 at Lamb's Players Theatre.

Forever Plaid: Paid Tidings: The wholesome revue of 1950s-style harmony singing returns—again. Through Dec. 31 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad.

Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill.


See all events on Friday, Dec 2