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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, November 2, 2007

Plaids return to put the sh-boom in the holidays

By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

From left, "Plaid" stars Aaron Komo, Sean Jones, Andrew Sakaguchi (who also directs) and Mike Dupre.

Brad Goda

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'PLAID TIDINGS'

Premiering at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, continuing at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays- Thursdays (no show on Thanksgiving), 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 25

Manoa Valley Theatre

$30 advance, military, seniors; $35 door; $25 ages 26 and younger

988-6131, www.manoavalleytheatre.com

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Like a fully assembled Big Wheel covered in gift wrap under a Christmas tree, "Plaid Tidings" can't hide what it is a sort-of goofy, holiday-themed sequel to the sort-of goofy off-Broadway hit musical comedy "Forever Plaid."

Thankfully, "Plaid Tidings" doesn't try to be anything but itself.

Staged at Manoa Valley Theatre almost eight years ago, "Forever Plaid" told the story of The Plaids a nerdy male vocal quartet killed on the eve of its first big show, when the guys collide with a school bus hauling Catholic teens to The Beatles' 1964 American TV debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Resurrected in the present day, The Plaids get their big debut, with plenty of familiar '50s and '60s "guy vocal group" favorites helping the plot along.

In "Plaid Tidings," bowing at Manoa Valley Theatre Wednesday, The Plaids are back ... from outer space, as it were.

"We're transported back from the cosmos and don't know why we're back on Earth," said director Andrew Sakaguchi, who also co-stars, as he did in MVT's 2000 "Forever Plaid" production, as one of The Plaids.

"As it turns out, we're back to do a Christmas concert."

For Rosemary Clooney. As astral guardians of perpetual harmony.

And no surprise, there's more. More of the classic and complex four-part harmony that "Forever Plaid" offered up in tribute to the golden era of the male vocal group. More Perry Como. More toilet plungers as dance props. And 100 percent more Christmas songs than the nada in the first "Plaid's" musical melange.

"The music this time is much more challenging," music director Melina Lillios said of "Plaid Tidings." "It's challenging for the vocalists as well. The harmonies are just incredibly tight. ... It's kind of like Manhattan Transfer meets Perry Como these traditional melodies that people know, arranged in crazy ways."

With so much heaven-sent music to consider, we asked the guys playing The Plaids to name their favorite and most-challenging "Plaid Tidings" songs, and the one song in the musical they've definitely heard enough of in rehearsals for all Christmases to come.

SEAN JONES (FRANCIS)

  • Favorite group song: "Sh-Boom." "We use plungers as our microphone stands. The choreography for the song is based upon that."

  • Favorite solo song: "Twuz the Nite B4 ..." "It basically starts off traditional and slow ... and pretty quickly breaks off into ... an upbeat, hip-hop, funky feel that's totally different from any of the songs we have in the show."

  • Most challenging song: "Jingle Bell Medley." "We learned our lines separately at first and thought, 'What was the writer smoking when he wrote this?' ... Vocally, the song is demanding. ... But when it comes together, it's one of the most amazing songs in the show."

  • Definitely not on my iPod a year from now: "I'll Be Home For Christmas."

    AARON KOMO (SPARKY)

  • Most challenging song: "Jingle Bell Medley." "There's parts where we're singing (our individual) notes right on top of each other, and we really have to use our ear to make sure we're singing the right note. ... It's so weird that you can take, like, 'Jingle Bells' and make it chaos. It's just insane."

  • Favorite group song: "Jingle Bell Medley." "When it comes together, it sounds like the most simple and beautiful thing."

    Definitely not on my iPod a year from now: "Holiday For Plaids."

    MIKE DUPRE (JINX)

  • Favorite group song: "The Christmas Song." "We don't have to dance during it. And the song itself the way the harmonies are set up, the way it is arranged is really pretty and beautiful."

  • Favorite solo song: "I'll Be Home For Christmas." "It's a rock-out-with-an-accordion number. ... I'm still learning the accordion. It'll be my favorite when I learn it."

  • Definitely not on my iPod a year from now: "The Carol of the Bells."

    ANDREW SAKAGUCHI (SMUDGE)

  • Favorite group song: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." "It's the most beautiful arrangement. It's so tender. It gets to me every time we sing it."

  • Favorite solo song: "Merry Christmas." "My grandmother really loved 'Forever Plaid' the times that I did it. She passed away this summer, and this is going to be my first Christmas without her. ... I feel really honored and lucky to have this chance to sing that song for her every night."

  • Definitely not on my iPod a year from now: "Mathilda," from the "Calypso Christmas" medley.

    Reach Derek Paiva at dpaiva@honoluluadvertiser.com.