‘Taffetas’ ignites audience with 1950’s music


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If you remember Patti Page, Jo Stafford, Connie Francis, Theresa Brewer and the music of the 1950s before Rock ‘N Roll took over, then “The Taffetas” gets your toes tapping, your memory tuned in retro-gear, and your lips synching or quietly singing along.

Opening night, Oct. 31, had the audience talking enthusiastically by intermission, reminiscing about the music to that point, and talking about upcoming songs of Act II. When that happens, you know “The Taffetas” serves up a feast for all to enjoy. The cornucopia of classics–mostly by female vocalists of the era overflows with joy.

Remember some of those nearly forgotten songstresses of that era? Brenda Lee and Connie Francis were the first of the younger generation to score hits in that transition from the solo artists to the Rock ‘N Roll onslaught. Before them, The Chordettes, McGuire Sisters scored with classic hits the filled the airwaves.

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“The Taffetas” makes the audience relive those yesteryear songs and the flood of memories associated with them. After the show, you will want to search YouTube to revisit the original artists and their rendition of these 1950’s gems.

Who remembers Teresa Brewer’s up-beat “Ricochet Romance” and “Music, Music, Music”? If only we could “Put another nickel in–in the nickelodeon.” How about Jo Stafford’s velvety voice singing “You Belong to Me”? And then there were the Patti Page melodies that sound so nostalgic and claim the most time in “The Taffetas.” Page’s songs include: “Old Cape Cod,” “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” “Allegheny Moon,” and “Mockin’ Bird Hill.”

Two classics from The Chordettes, “Mr. Sandman,” and “Lollipop” bring back thoughts of a kinder atmosphere in America–and the audience remembered those tunes well. They fit well with Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry” and Connie Francis’ “Where the Boys Are” and Shelley Fabares’ “Johnny Angel.”

“The Taffetas” includes a medley about love: “You’re Just In Love,” the Ethel Mermen hit; “”Love Letters In The Sand,” the Pat Boone song; “L-O-V-E” made famous by Nat King Cole; “Puppy Love,” the Paul Anka hit. The four girl group fantasize about a trip abroad which allows them to do a travel medley of popular songs by varied performers. Included in that medley are: “ The Happy Wanderer,”

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“Constantinople,” “My Little Grass Shack,” “C’est Si Bon,” “Sweet Song Of India,” “Arrivederci Roma,” “See The USA in Your Chevrolet” (complete with Dinah Shore’s kiss), “Fly Me To The Moon,” “Volare,” and “Around The World.”

A 50s music show cannot ignore the R&B music of the time and Laverne Baker’s “Tweedle Dee” nods to the light-hearted attitude that characterizes a lot of that musical era. “The Taffetas” musical numbers include over 50 songs from that era. Most are songs of female artists, but some nods were given to male performers on the time. And, of course, no 50s show would be complete without a Johnny Ray song in the mix. “If your sweetheart sends a letter of goodbye,….so, put your head down and go ahead and cry“ notes his most famous Top 40 chart topper.

The list of songs alone give plenty of reason to rush to get your tickets before this show sells out. And, it will attract huge sales. However, the songs do not do the show justice without the stunning cast that Brad Zimmerman assembled. Samantha Agron plays Peggy, Krista Eyler plays Kaye, Jessalyn Kincaid plays Donna, and Courtney Koval plays Cheryl. The 1950’s music never sounded so fresh and alive as when these ladies get hold of the melodies. Each performer brings a resume of performances on almost every stage in the KC Metro.

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All of these ladies possess beautiful voices with an incredible range. Their delivery of each song makes the song fresh and alive again. Give them lots of credit for taking hits associated with particular artists and making it their own.

Music for “The Taffetas” comes from a three-piece combo of Lenore Remmert on piano, Ken Remmert on percussion, and Brian Wilson on bass guitar. The trio bring the music to life and keep the notes coming non-stop in each act.

Be advised: This show provides some of the best family-style musical entertainment from the past several years. The performers, the band, the atmosphere, the musical selection bring enthusiasm throughout the show.

“The Taffetas” runs through Dec. 15. Do not miss this show. Get your tickets reserved now to avoid sell-outs. Tickets, dates, prices, times can be found on The Chestnut Fine Arts website.


Tags: “The Taffetas” review, Chestnut Fine Arts Theatre, Olathe, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment


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