THE TAFFETAS is a simple jukebox musical meant to evoke the flavor and times of the girl bands of the 1950’s and 1960’s. The Newtown Arts Company has channeled strong that feeling with this production and fans of the music of these times will definitely not be disappointed.
Timothy Costello (The Announcer) channels the persona of a 1950’s band show host quite well. His comedy and body language enhance what is a relatively small role, however he is easily rememorable especially his dash of slapstick in one of the 50’s inspired advertisements of the show.
Jane Landes (Cheryl) was the runaway star of the show. Her voice was strong throughout all her numbers, she played her character with perfect body language and never broke character all night. Every time she had a solo the audience was in for a treat. Watching Landes embrace her character was a particularly enjoyable moment for me and listening to the audience during intermission, most would agree. A very enthusiastic member of the audience seated not far from me was singing along to her songs and was shushed by her friend because “I want to hear Cheryl sing, not you. SHE has talent.”
Heidi Morgan (Kaye) carries the majority of the spoken lines of the show, her mic seemed a little soft but her voice was always enchanting. Morgan did have some trouble with some of her spoken lines but she recovered quickly and gracefully each time. While Morgan had the right vocal range for her character she was noticeably younger then some of the other Taffetas for whom she was supposed to be the “Big Sister”. These small imperfections though are gracefully overshadowed by Morgan’s amazing and classic voice, especially in the second act.
Natalie Taptykoff (Donna) was hilarious throughout, rivaling Landes for the unexpected star of the show. Her singing voice was unique but still quite beautiful and her rendition of Mr. Lee was my favorite solo-moment of the night. Taptykoff did seem to lack confidence in the group numbers, looking at her sisters out of the corners of her eyes constantly. However whenever it was just her singing, she took the spotlight and moved with not just confidence but grace as well. She has a natural comedic timing that was needed to pull off her character and it really helped.
Beverly Sharp (Peggy) seemed stiff doing her choreography and was off-key multiple times during her solo numbers. She did however have great improvisational skills when dealing with the audience participation portions of the show. She had a natural charisma in these moments.
The titular TAFFETAS are the stars of this production however the band as well deserves quite a large amount of praise as well, they played very beautifully with Sue den Outer the musical director on the piano with Mike Dettra on drums as well as Mike McGarry on guitar. They played fantastically all night and the live band really does make this show as great as it is.
The stage was set simply, but it fit the theme of the show quite well with some beautfiully hand painted boxes with “THE TAFFETAS” on one side and the characters names on the other. The props used throughout the show were all quite good especially the Galaxy beauty costmetics. The choreography of the show as a whole was on the weaker side, however the harmonies were all carried quite well by the amazing singers and band. My biggest complaint of the show would be the lighting, characters faces were washed out from bad lighting on multiple occasions.
Newtown Arts Company has done a great job of assembling a very talented cast and crew for THE TAFFETAS, and it is a must see for anyone who was ever a fan of girl bands, or the music of the 1950’s and 60’s.
by Rick Lewis
Directed by Mary-Liz Ivins
Musical Director: Susan den Outer
Produced by Nancy Pickering
April 3-9, 2014
Newtown Arts Company
120 N. State Street
Newtown, PA 18940