STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For 21st Century Media
The Christmas holidays mix with the sound of the 1950s in “Plaid Tidings” at the Bucks County Playhouse in December.
“Plaid Tidings” is the second of the “Forever Plaid” musicals. The first finds the characters coming back to Earth after they’ve died to perform the concert they always wanted to. In the holiday version, the Plaids come back to earth to spread yuletide joy with holiday hits.
The members of the singing group – Francis, Jinx, Smudge, and Sparky – aren’t sure why at first they’re back on Earth. But a phone call from a heavenly Rosemary Clooney lets them know they need to put a little harmony in the world.
Nick Cearley, of Manhattan, plays Sparky, the clown of the group. He has played the role before and can’t wait to do so again.
Cearley, who started dance class at 3 and took music classes growing up and through school, likes the mixing of Christmas and holiday songs with music from the 50s. He thinks doing the holiday tunes in a 50s barbershop quartet sound makes them more beautiful. And there are more than just amazing songs in the show.
“It’s super sincere and honest and genuine,” he said. “When moments like that happen, it’s a nice breath because so much is fast-paced and funny.”
He is thrilled to be returning to New Hope – he recently starred in the theater’s production of “Rocky Horror.”
“I always love to work at the holidays,” he said, “and at New Hope. It’s so pretty.”
His favorite holiday is Halloween, but Christmas is a close second. He remembers being young and singing around the piano with his family in Ohio. He’s happy to spend this holiday season in a town he really likes with his new husband and new puppy.
Phil Reno is the show’s music director. When he’s not conducting the music for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in New York, he’ll be in New Hope leading the music for the show. He said folks will recognize songs like “Sh-boom,” and of course, the holiday tunes, like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
This is his fourth show at the Playhouse and he’s happy to be a part of it.
“We’re able to get a lot of top caliber talent because it’s so close to New York,” he said. “We have had a lot of Broadway regulars in shows we’ve done.”
Reno loves musicals, dramatic or comedic – they’re captivating.
“The best ones transport you to another world, or put you in somebody else’s world,” he said. “That makes it magical.”
And the tunes can be catchy, like they are in “Plaid Tidings,” he said. The characters are relatable, too. Cearley relates to Sparky, especially to the part of wanting to be on stage.
“That would be me if I died,” he said. “I would want to come back to do another show.”
Luckily for audiences, it’s much easier since he’s alive and well and loving being a performer. He’s thrilled to be part of another Playhouse production: “I’m really looking forward to it.”
IF YOU GO
What: “Plaid Tidings”
Where: Bucks County Playhouse, 70 South Main St., New Hope.
When: Preview Dec. 4; opens Dec. 5; runs through Dec. 28.
Tickets: start at $25.
Info.: Call (215) 862-2121 or visit www. bcptheater.org.