You know a show is a hit when people ask for it time and again.
That's the story with "Forever Plaid - Plaid Tidings," a holiday musical so popular that people asked for the show to be repeated for its third year this season, according to the show's director, Jim Pollino of Ebensburg.
"I've had people stop me and ask me when we're going to do it again," he said. "They really wanted us to bring it back."
By Gary M. Baranec
John Stiffler (left), Jim Pollino (center) and Dave Pollino rehearse a doo-wop number that will be part of “Plaid Tidings,” which will be performed in the main courtroom of the Cambria County?Courthouse.
The show will be staged at the Cambria County Courthouse as part of the annual Ebensburg "Dickens of a Christmas" Festival. Show coordinators were able to assemble the original cast that has been in the performance all three years, said Pollino, who - along with directing the play - is cast in the role of Jinx.
His son, David Pollino, who also lives in Ebensburg, plays the role of Sparky. Another Ebensburg resident, John Stiffler, is cast in the role of Frankie, while Earl Cooper of Vinco plays Smudge.
The play is about a group of deceased musicians who are sent back to Earth to put harmony into a discordant world, said Elaine Mastalski, executive director of the Cresson Lake Playhouse, which is presenting the play. At first, they're not sure why they've been sent back, but they get the message after a phone call from Heaven placed by no less than famed vocalist Rosemary Clooney, Mastalski said.
If you go
What: "Forever Plaid Plaid Tidings," presented by Cresson Lake Playhouse
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Where: Cambria County Courthouse, 200 S. Center St., Courtroom A, Ebensburg
Tickets are $17 for adults, students younger than 18 years are $10, and are available by calling the playhouse at 472-4333 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays; tickets also will be available at the door.
The four musicians then launch into a series of holiday songs that include a lot of audience participation. The musical contains something for everyone, from the Rockettes to the Vienna Boys Choir, said Mastalski.
"It's truly a Heaven-sent show with a lot of holiday favorites in it," she said.
Both Mastalski and Pollino, who has directed several other Cresson Lake productions, said staging a play at the courthouse presents a unique set of challenges. The playhouse had to take its own sound system and lighting and use offices for dressing rooms.
"There were some challenges, because it's not our normal set-up," said Jim Pollino.
The younger Pollino, who also has been in many other Cresson Lake plays, even joked that the courtroom's witness box would come in handy for one of the play's scenes.
Cooper also is a veteran of several past Cresson Lake productions.
But the challenges of putting on a production outside of their usual theater have been met, and the play is just about ready for opening night, Mastalski said.
She noted that there are even some perks to playing at the legal venue. The courtroom where the play will take place seats 500 people, which means many more people can see it than would be able to view it at the Cresson Lake Playhouse.
"We're reinventing the way to do theater -?in the courthouse," she said.