Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Little Theatre of Alexandria Plaid Tidings

By • Dec 18th, 2009 • Category: Reviews

Plaid Tidings = nostalgia X 4. In other words, the current Little Theatre of Alexandria production is a veritable nostalgia four way.

First off, this comic musical revue is made up of mostly ’50s tunes, including “Hey There,” “Fever” and “Sh-Boom.” Then there’s the holiday angle, with ample representation from such chestnuts roasting by an open ’50s songbook as “Let It Snow,” “Mr. Santa” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Nothing like holiday standards to amp up the nostalgia quotient.

As befits such musical material, the show’s style is reminiscent of such ’50s guy groups as the Four Aces and the Four Freshmen. The Four Plaids are a (fictional) guy group cut down in their prime. Their literal demise occurred when the red convertible in which they were traveling was T-boned by a bus. On a more existential level, it should be noted that the bus was taking a group of teenage girls to see the Ed Sullivan Show on which the Beatles were to be presented to the American mass audience. As pop music history would have it, the Beatles and their ilk (abetted by Elvis and his ilk) mortally wounded the goody-goody icons of Eisenhower era entertainment.

And finally there’s the self-referential nostalgia of the Plaid phenomenon. The Plaids were first sighted in Forever Plaid, a 1990 show (named by George H.W. Bush as his favorite stage attraction). Forever Plaid ran and ran and ran in theaters all over America. The show’s begetter, Stuart Ross, naturally saw the need for a sequel. Thus Plaid Tidings. So the second Plaid revue touches nostalgic feelings about Plaid Mark I. While not a national box office bonanza on the order of Forever Plaid, the 2001 sequel has proved to be a sturdy standby for theaters in search of a holiday audience-getter.

Alexandria Little Theatre director Melissa Mock‘s production is sturdy enough. Her four singer/comics – Doug Sanford, Troy Miller, Matt Williams and Jim Carmalt — do right by the songs. Particularly welcome is Miller’s accordion accompaniment of a helter-skelter Ed Sullivan Show parody.

As will happen with music and comedy revues, Plaid Tidings is afflicted with a concept. There’s this convoluted rigmarole about the boys having a quest or something. But they don’t know what it is. Fellow dead ’50s pop star Rosemary Clooney sends them rhymed riddle/clues. Eventually they realize that their mission is to finally do on stage the TV holiday special that they had so longed to perform when they were alive.

Or something like that.

Usually Plaid productions, whether the original or the holiday sequel, feature performers who have a certain showbiz panache, guys in their 30s who might be heartthrob contenders on the order of, say, Pat Boone or Danny Osmond. The Alexandria Little Theatre singer/actors are not that. It is hard to imagine them as teen idols or even matron idols. But they do, indeed, have flair for belting out the quaint hits of yesteryear. Doug Sanford even does a psycho-social deconstruction of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” that elucidates the loner archetype and asks the searching question, “What are reindeer games anyway?” And Sanford redeems “Twas the Night Before Christmas” (oh no, please dear God, not that!!) with a novel if slightly arthritic rap delivery. Huh! Word!

Photo Gallery


Photos by Shane Canfield for the Little Theatre of Alexandria.


  • Frankie: Doug Sanford
  • Jinx: Troy Miller
  • Sparky: Matt Williams
  • Smudge: Jim Carmalt


  • Piano: Susan Maher
  • Bass: David Burelli, Rick Netherton


  • Producer: Mary Beth Smith-Toomey
  • Director: Melissa Mock
  • Music Director: Ma rgie Remmers
  • Choreographer: Marcelle Yeager
  • Assistant Producer: Liz Sabin
  • Stage Manager: Marg Soroos
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Charlie Dragonnette
  • Set Design/Set Painter: Erin Cumbo
  • Lighting Design: Chris Hardy
  • Costume Design: Jean Schlichting and Kit Sibley
  • Sound Design: Alan Wray
  • Assisted by: David Correia
  • Properties Design: Art and Margaret Snow
  • Assisted by: Eileen Doherty, Sharon Dove, Bob Van Eimeren and Janice Yeadon
  • Hair and Makeup Design: Bette Williams
  • Set Construction: Chris Feldmann
  • Set Decoration: Nancyanne Burton, Jean and Allen Stuhl
  • Master Electrician: Nancy Owens
  • Assisted by: Casey Brusnahan, Eileen Doherty, Pat Durako, Pam Leonowich, Doug Olmsted Liz Owens, Dick Schwab, Carrie Vernon
  • Wardrobe: Nicole Zuchetto
  • Assisted by: Rachel Alberts, Patty Greksouk, Barbara Helsing, Robbie Herbst, Rebecca Johnson, Harriet Singleton, Margaret Snow and Annie Vroom
  • Rehearsal Pianist: Susan Maher
  • Plaid Announcer: Ryan Mock
  • Rigging: Russell Wyland
  • Photographer: Shane Canfield
  • Playbill: Tina Barry and Mary Beth Smith-Toomey
  • Audition Table: Wanda Perkins and Margaret Snow
  • Double Tech Dinner: Michael Toomey
  • Assisted by: Frank D. Shutts

Disclaimer: Little Theatre of Alexandria provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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lives in Arlington with his wife, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. Before retiring last year at age 70, he was theater critic at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for 27 years. Prior to that, he reviewed plays for the Philadelphia Bulletin, the Texas Observer and the Swarthmore College Phoenix. Non-reviewing journalistic jobs include writing for the Houston Chronicle, the San Juan (Puerto Rico) Star and El Mundo de San Juan. Think about it: most of the papers he worked for no longer exist. Maybe this internet gig has better longevity prospects.

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