A Taffeta Wedding

Written and musically A Taffeta Wedding

arranged by Rick Lewis

Directed by Arthur Whitelaw

A Matchmaker’s Dream!

If one wedding is good, wouldn’t four be fantastic?

That’s the premise of the fictional TV show, “Happily Ever After” which provides the framework for A Taffeta Wedding. The time is 1964. The scene is a TV studio (complete with a flashing light demanding “applause”) and interlaced commercials. The lucky, appealing brides are the Taffetas – a sister quartet from Muncie, Indiana – who will wed their beaus, the Cardigans – a tuneful fraternity-brother foursome — before a national audience (shades of Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki). The lovely girls – with the stiff hairdos of the day (two brunettes, a redhead and a blonde) — are clad in pastel taffeta and chiffon outfits: yellow, pink, aqua and purple. The handsome fellows are color coordinated with the girls, sporting trimmed sweaters and matching shoes.

A taffeta wedding

With 11 songs in the first act and 13 in the second, there is ample time to explore the relationships, which can be divided into three distinct parts: hope, despair, and resolution.

Kaye (Meredith Bartmon), Peggy (Rebecca Cesario), Cheryl (Emily Senn) and Donna (Chloe Golden) are filled with expectation and excitement over their upcoming nuptials and open with such songs as  “Mr. Sandman, Bring me a Dream,” “Everybody Loves a Lover,” and “Goin’ to the Chapel.”  Their male counterparts — Chuck (John Debrowski), Frankie (Matt Falber), Johnny (Garrett Bruce) and Buddy (Andrew Oberstein), join them.  The eight fine voices blend into strong harmonies. Each singer is also able take the lead in any particular song and can shift as smoothly with the lyrics as with the choreography. The fellows join the ladies for such winsome songs as “Put your Head on my Shoulder.” Ah, so romantic.

However, all is not well in this fictional heaven. Dissension looms!

Will the wedding actually take place? It doesn’t look that way at the opening of Act II when the girls reappear garbed in black mourning outfits. Oh my. . . .

Not to worry. All will be well and will end with the eight warbling such tunes as “Love me Forever” and  “Hold me, Thrill me, Kiss me.”

The effect is upbeat and charming, the audience held not only by the skill of the singers, but by the way they take on the individual roles – silly, sexy, flirtatious, pouting – as they develop their characters with warmth and humor. As a plus, talented Cheyenne Lentz plays Barbara – but to tell her charming role would be a spoiler. Go see for yourself.

The performance provides a delightful return to the days of Lawrence Welk, and famous sister quartets like the McGuires, the Lennon Sisters and the Chordettes. And I would estimate that for the audience, at least  90 percent of the songs were recognizable. This is the third incarnation of this fictional quartet, written by playwright and musical arranger Rick Lewis. The Taffetas originated off Broadway in 1989 in a musical about the four aiming for a spot on the Ed Sullivan Show. It was directed by award-winning Arthur Whitelaw, director of tonight’s show (who was also the original producer), ran for 165 performances and was favorably compared with Forever Plaid.  A Taffeta Christmas then emerged as a successful sequel.

Now, with this quarto-nuptial of A Taffeta Wedding, the four have become eight, and may begin to rival the Osmond family. One can hardly wait to see what comes next!

Recommended

Beverly Friend

friend@oakton.edu

At the Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W Sample Rd, Coral Springs, Florida. Call 954-344-7765, www.stagedoortheatre.com Tickets $38-42 Wednesdays, Thursdays and  Sundays 2 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays 8 p.m., Sundays 7 p.m. through Jan 16.