The Taffetas | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Taffetas, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. The singer-as-role-model phenomenon predates Britney and Madonna by more than half a century. But where today's MTV icons represent women's empowerment and sexual freedom, the teen idols of the "fabulous 50s" were poster children for a peppier, white-bread, "I Like Ike" worldview. For those who want to relive those happy days, this "TV talent revue" featuring four blond sisters "fresh from the Moose Hall in Muncie" is just the ticket. On an in-the-round stage fashioned into a giant turntable with platforms in each corner shaped like 45s, Roberta Duchak, Anne Gunn, Susie McMonagle, and Rachel Rockwell glide through selections from and medleys of golden oldies--or, as my dad said, "the kinda tunes where you could actually hear what they were singing"--including "Mr. Sandman," "Sh-Boom," "Johnny Angel," and "Where the Boys Are." Each number comes complete with dainty swaying, "spontaneous" anecdotes, and gracious nods to the TV show's cosmetics sponsor; the execution is as slick as the sisters' unmoving Aqua Net hairdos.

Let's face it--this may not be the most culture-forward evening in Chicago theater. But audiences who love this music should appreciate the Taffetas as much as the opening-night crowd, which offered lots of applause and constant "aaaahs" of recognition. The women--each a musical powerhouse in her own right--deliver personalities and vocal qualities as subtly distinct as their four shades of blond (honey, platinum, strawberry, and dishwater). Entertaining individually, they come together in flawless harmony.

--Kim Wilson

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