Taffeta Tally

After this report card, the Taffetas are probably going to get detention.

Liberty! Kate! Gianinna! Micah! - KYDALL ELLIOTT
Kydall Elliott
Liberty! Kate! Gianinna! Micah!

Show: A Taffeta Christmas (holiday version of the 1950s girl-group jukesical The Taffetas — like the Chiffons, get it?), currently showing four times a week in Coeur d’Alene.

Flouncy ‘50s dresses: plum (Kaye!), green (Peggy!), blue (Cheryl!), pink (Donna!).

Pumps and pearls: silver and large. Cheesy patter: The girls told us how excited they were to be with us tonight in their dear old hometown. Then they told us four more times.

Highlights in harmonizing: Four voices blended well on choruses like “Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays” and “Please say you’ll be mine” (from “Sincerely”).

Solo vs. quartet songs: These four vocalists are seldom strong enough to stand alone. Two exceptions: Liberty Harris’s yearning in “And where he goes I’ll follow, I’ll follow, I’ll follow.” (The lower register suited her voice.) And Micah Hanson’s aggressive dreaminess as her three sisters/backup singers did triple toe-taps: “’cause I want (yeah-yeah, yeah)/ A boy (yeah-yeah, yeah)/ To call (yeah-yeah, yeah)/ My own (yeah-yeah)/ I want a dream lover so I don’t have to dream alone.” Both songs were nearly sung and acted.

Delivery of lyrics: Often unconvincing. Despite the finger-snaps and hip-twists, “Jingle Bell Rock” didn’t.

Most anemic arrangement: “Jambalaya.” When prettified girls holding fake gift boxes pirouette to a simplified beat and slowed-down tempo, nobody really looks as if they’re “son of gun, gonna have some fun at the bay-oh.”

Cute visual metaphor: The keyboard and bass players perform inside a circular upstage alcove that looks — and acts — like a snow globe.

Obligatory audience participation moments: Comical. The girls “recognized” one guy as “Cousin Warren,” and soon he was adding bass-note harmony: “’cause we’re movin’ along/ Singin’ a song/ Side by ... side.” (He came in too soft and too late, but so what? That only made it funnier.) Another bit, with Donna urging a man in the audience to move in for a kiss, fell passionlessly flat.

Ironic highlights: Occasional, as when the girls introduce a song from “our hottest-selling platter, Sputnik Love.”

Irony awareness level: Very low. With widespread skepticism about celebrities today, how can you take a show set nearly 60 years ago and simply adopt that era’s celebrity worship? Do these characters get that commercials for “Moon Dust Facial Powder” are bogus, or not? Do they get the joke about the kid who saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus, or not? It would be a lot more fun if they did. Some lingering grins and eyelash-fluttering would help.

Pop-culture name-drops: Poor. Judging from the audience’s delayed giggles, not many people nowadays remember who Sal Mineo was. Or Tab Hunter.

Even cheesier patter: Many women in the audience hooted at a reference to “dreaming about that guy you want to cook and sew for.”

Choreography: Usually inventive. Best was a vertical lineup on the stairs with Kaye undulating her arms up top and, on “ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling,” three metronome heads wagging tick-tock, tick-tock.

Duration: With only 11 songs and three medleys, A Taffeta Christmas is barely an 80-minute show (including intermission). It’s finger-snapping quick.

Saccharine content: At four sugar lumps, very high. This show may cause diabetes.

Boy- vs. girl-group throwdown: At least the Plaids (next week in CdA Summer Theatre’s winter show) laugh at themselves. The Taffetas just smile their vacuous smiles.

A Taffeta Christmas • Thurs-Sat 7:30 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Dec. 19 • $19; $17, students; $15, seniors; $10, student rush; $9, children • Lake City Playhouse • 1320 E. Garden Ave., Coeur d’Alene • lakecityplayhouse.org • (208) 667-1323

American Original: The Life and Work of John James Audubon @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 19
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About The Author

Michael Bowen

Michael Bowen is a former senior writer for The Inlander and a respected local theater critic. He also covers literature, jazz and classical music, and art, among other things.