The Gem Theatre presents "Plaid Tidings" through Dec. 31. Photo: Courtesy of The Gem Theatre

The Gem serves up a sweet holiday treat

By Donald V. Calamia

To be totally honest, the last place I wanted to be on a recent Thursday night was sitting in a dark theater. It had nothing to do with the show I was there to review, "Plaid Tidings" at The Gem Theatre. But a partially sleepless night, a 5:30 a.m. start to the business day, a more-hectic-than-usual workload and the start of a sinus headache all took their toll by late afternoon. So there I sat, wishing I was at home and getting ready for bed, when the lights dimmed and the show began. And thus it came to pass that within mere seconds - yes, seconds, thanks to a delightful curtain speech that set the tone for the rest of the evening - the superb harmonies, the excellent accompaniment, the laugh-out-loud humor and the sweet personalities of the four performers all combined to melt away the tensions of the day. The result was one of the most enjoyable holiday shows I've seen in years!

"Plaid Tidings" follows the unexpected reappearance of Jinx (Scott Barnhardt), Frankie (Bradley Beahen), Sparky (Jared Gertner) and Smudge (Kevin Vortmann), collectively known as The Plaids, a '50s-era semi-professional harmony group killed in 1964 on their way to their first major gig. Their first return from the afterlife was chronicled in "Forever Plaid," in which the boys were given a once-in-a-post-lifetime opportunity to perform their ill-fated show. And now they're back - in Detroit of all places - but why? That's what they've got to figure out, or they risk losing their heavenly positions as guardians of harmony.


'Plaid Tidings'

The Gem Theatre, 333 Madison St., Detroit. Wednesday-Sunday through Dec. 31; no shows Nov. 25 & Dec. 20-26. $27.50 - $32.50. 313-963-9800.

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