West T. Hill Community Theatre presents 1950s musical revue


Once upon a time, musical performers knew they'd made it big when they landed on "The Ed Sullivan Show." The title group, "The Taffetas" is looking for just such an honor in West T. Hill Community Theatre's summer production.

Director Karen L. Logue has been tapping her toes to the music of the 1950s that is the foundation of the musical revue, and for which she has a passion.

"Admittedly, this is the music I grew up on. I just love it," Logue says. "It is simple, to the point and, as we said back then, 'dreamy.' There is nothing in this music that will disturb you. It will make you want to get up and jitterbug, which is just fine with us.

"To me, the music of the 1950s was purely entertaining. It made you feel good, got you on your feet and made you move. I can't listen to this music without singing along or moving - something!"


The show isn't typical musical theater, Logue notes.

"I guess it isn't as well-known as some of the musicals we've performed," she explains. "Actually, it isn't really a musical, per se, but more of a musical revue. There isn't much dialogue and only a basic skeleton of a plot. There are several long medleys - musical bits that include as many as 10 songs in one piece. It's fast-paced and entertaining. But that kind of performing is challenging, although our Taffetas rise to the occasion.

"'The Taffetas' are a group of naive Midwest gals who are sisters and have grown up singing together. They perform at county fairs, pageants and the like. As they get a bit older, they go on the road. Their biggest dream is to perform on the 'Ed Sullivan Show.' This (play) opens in a television studio in New York City where they are guests on a weekly show that showcases talent. They have been told that Mr. Sullivan is auditioning them for his show. They are excited and hopeful for their first big break."

The Taffetas are sisters, Logue says: Kaye (Coletta Jones), Peggy (Martha Robertson), Cheryl (Jana Ellis) and Donna (Cindy Lehman).

"We have also cast a group of girls grooming to be the next generation of Taffetas as backup singers," she adds. The backup singers include actresses Tagan Citty, Julia Bright Moran, Katie Layfield and Jamie Sommers. Logue notes that guest musicians Stuart Powell and Eben Henson Jr. are providing musical accompaniment, under the baton of musical director/accompanist Janelle Dishman. The latter, as well as The Taffetas themselves, is a seasoned WTHCT veteran, Logue says, which eases her job.

"This is third show I have directed this season and this is by far the easiest one for me," she explains. "The reason is that all four of our main performers are real pros. They know their job and they do it and they are musicians in their own right.

"Our musical director and accompanist (also) is an accomplished performer and an incredible person to work with. With this kind of participation, I don't have to do much, so the challenge for me has been minimal. I'm a cheerleader in this effort and there is much to cheer about."

Patrons of West T. Hill Community Theatre seem to like the nostalgic musical revues the theater produces, judging by the audiences for previous musical revues. The small cast of "The Taffetas" makes it accessible and pleasurable, both for the audience and the director, which made the unfamiliar musical revue a good choice.

"We had an incredible season at West T. Hill Community Theatre, but many of our shows consisted of large casts," Logue notes. "It was time to scale down a bit and have a smaller group to work with. It seemed the perfect summer fare without being too crowded. Our space at West T. Hill Community Theatre seems to fit this show perfectly.

"Also, this kind of nostalgic music seems to be very popular with our patrons and audiences. We've had previous success with 'Swingtime Canteen' and 'Swingtime USO (Revisited)' - both 'girl singing group'-type shows."

Logue says she came across "The Taffetas," which was written and conceived by Rick Lewis with additional material by Arthur Whitelaw, after seeing a similar production of "Forever Plaid," which she calls the male version of the same show. WTHCT's production is a version that was revised for stage in 1993.

"It is touted as a 'musical journey through the fabulous '50s,'" Logue adds.

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