Dek: Local resident Jason Heil performs in “Plaid Tidings: A Special Holiday Edition of ‘Forever Plaid’” at the Old Globe
Remember plaid? That would be “Forever Plaid.” Well, the musical comedy phenom, cash-cow and cottage industry is back.
A paean to tight-harmony guy groups, “Forever Plaid,” conceived/directed by Stuart Ross, premiered Off Broadway in 1990. Its local debut was in 1991 at the Old Globe. In 2003, after zillions of productions worldwide, Ross wrapped up a holiday gift of Plaid. Now, “Plaid Tidings” brings its relentless cheer to the Globe.
One of the new Plaids is Lemon Grove resident Jason Heil. He’s joined by San Diegan David Brannen (a former Globe “Grinch”), and “Plaid” veterans Michael Winther (who appeared at the Globe in “Forever Plaid,” “King Lear” and “Damn Yankees”) and Leo Daignault (who played Jinx in San Diego and other cities, and reprised the role in the “Plaid Tidings” premiere at Pasadena Playhouse). The show is directed and choreographed by creator Ross, with assistant direction from local actor/singer David Humphrey.
“It’s ‘Plaid’ Redux,” says Heil of the holiday show. In “Forever Plaid,” we learned that the four geeky Plaid-lads were killed in a car accident in 1964, on their way to their first big gig (at the Airport Hilton). Twenty-seven years later, they’re brought back to earth to play that sadly aborted the concert.
In the new show, they return from the Other Side yet again, to perform a Christmas Special. They sing a few songs from their first show (“Stranger in Paradise,” “Sha Boom,” and others), and mix in holiday standards, including a hip hop version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.’ And there’s another visit to the Ed Sullivan Show, which was a highlight of “Forever Plaid.”
“These four sadsacks never reached adulthood,” says Heil. “They’re little man-boys. But the music they make is gorgeous, with incredible harmonies and spectacular arrangements.”
Heil plays Smudge, the ulcer-riddled worrier (“a little like I used to be!”). He gets to dance, rap, play bongos, juggle – and become Ed Sullivan. “It’s just good, silly fun,” he says.
Since he moved to San Diego from New York in 2004, Heil has kept busy as an actor and director. He’s performed around the country, but since settling into Lemon Grove with his wife, Kim Montelibano Heil, an education associate at the Globe, and his two children, age 5 and 2, he’s focused his work locally, and has appeared at theaters all over the county, including the La Jolla Playhouse (premiere of “Zhivago”) and Lamb’s Players Theatre (where he’s an associate artist). Next up: he directs Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” for Moonlight Stage Productions in January, and in March, he plays the Nazi Ernst in Cygnet Theatre’s “Cabaret.”
“I’m very lucky,” Heil admits. “I’m booked through next May. So I can relax and enjoy my house and yard, my fruit trees and neighbors. Lemon Grove is a great community for us and our kids. Now, I get to perform at the Globe, singing great classic songs, in wonderful harmony.”
That’s what “Plaid” is all about: putting a little harmony in a discordant world.
“Plaid Tidings” begins previews November 27, and runs through December 26.
Performances are Tuesday-Saturday at 7pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2pm (except for Dec. 4, when the Saturday performances are at 1pm and 5pm)
Tickets range from $35-67, and are available at 619-23-GLOBE (234-5623) or www.theoldglobe.org