Tap Chicks

You can't take your eyes of the Tap Chicks, who began their dancing careers as students in the advanced tap classes at the Pasadena Senior Center, and who performed a fabulous evening of song and dance at the Sierra Madre Playhouse on Sunday, October 24th.

Directed and choreographed by Pam Kay, a 15-year veteran Vegas
entertainer, the Tap Chicks danced their way through a playlist of warmly familiar tunes that ranged from The Mills Brothers to The Andrews Sisters, and included songs from a variety of genres: Gospel, Country, and the Broadway musical.

The ladies

Kay's Vegas resume is unmistakable. As the Chicks hustled through their costume changes (for BUGLE BOY, they sported officers garb and dogtags), Kay was right at home giving the audience some lightning banjo-playing and the kind of stand-up comedy that made the Catskills a destination for east-coasters. She wasn't shy to bring a few audience members onstage either (though it was never clear whether these audience members had gotten the heads-up beforehand). In one of the evening's funniest moments, Kay didn't have to try too hard to convince a World War II veteran named Rudy to help sing back-up for the Chicks - dressed as Patty Andrews. Rudy jumped out of his seat to join Kay onstage, and his enthusiasm made him a great sport as Kay proceeded to wrap a skirt around the former serviceman, give him a wig, and get him to sing the tongue-twisting "boogie-woogie bugle boy from Company B."

Less than a decade ago, Kay - who currently teaches beginning, intermediate, and advanced tap at the Pasadena Senior Center - determined that her students were too good to keep their tapping within the confines of the Center (located at 85 East Holly Street). For the past 8 years, these talented ladies have drawn crowds to their performances at the L.A. County Fair. The oldest Chick is Carol Black who, at 81, is mesmerizing to watch. Black and the others have given their golden years a true luster - their joy for being onstage radiates on their faces as they count out their tap steps. They are never nervous - they know better - and their thrill makes for a dynamic experience.

From the opening number (in which the Chicks sport Lucy Ricardo costumes) to the concluding medley of ROBERT E. LEE and HOT HONEY RAG, the Chicks deliver remarkably impressive hoofing and some pretty fantastic dueling taps.

Tap dancing is a distinctly American style of theatrical dance that has its roots in styles of dance coming from Ireland, England, and Africa. Over time, the buck-and-wing and soft-shoe styles that became popular in the U.S. both merged to form the tap style that modern audiences recognize - a style made famous by the great Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, as well as Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Paul Draper. The Chicks's performances give their share of nods to these great dancers and to their contributions to art of tap.

The Chicks have developed a strong following and for good reason. Look for the Chicks to perform at the 2005 L.A. County Fair and call the Pasadena Senior Center at 626. 795.4331 or check out www.pasadenaseniorcenter.org for other upcoming performances.

The Sierra Madre Playhouse is located at 87 West Sierra Madre Boulevard in Sierra Madre. To make reservations for upcoming Playhouse shows, call 626-256-3809 or visit the website: www.sierramadreplayhouse.org

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