Their name alone is unique and it does provide a bit of insight about the group; they are a tad zany and a lot of fun. The group was originally founded in 1972 by Betty Ferra. It was an offshoot of the 'Fun After Fifty Club'. With Betty's background in vaudeville, she helped create a amusing musical variety show to provide entertainment to other seniors.
The name 'Kitchen Kut-Ups' was used because originally they used pots and pans along with things like kazoos to make their music. These days, they are trying to just go by the name 'The Kut-Ups' because the band uses traditional instruments with a sixteen-piece set.
Over the years the group went from playing to local community halls to Spreckels. Part of the original design of Spreckels took into consideration the Kut-Ups needs for their variety show. Before the more recent economic downturn the Kut-Ups annual shows would be sold out with groups of seniors bussing in from as far away as Sacramento.
More recently the word has been spreading around locally about the quality entertainment they provide. Last Saturday's initial performance played to a large audience and this Saturday's show looks to sell out soon.
The shows are in a true variety style with musical numbers, songs, dancing, and skits. Usually each year has new material based around themes. This year, as the 40th anniversary, the group is picking favorite pieces from over the years for a Best-Of-the Kut-Ups show.
"We have some really great numbers," president Louise Graves told the Patch. "We even have the men dance as well," she said with a smile as she pointed at her husband Dave, who also plays trombone in the band.
Louise is in her 12th year with the group, playing saxophone and dancing, while her husband is in his 11th.
When asked why they do it the response was two-fold, "Part of it is fun. But also people in the group might not have the opportunity to perform anymore or they might not have had the chance ever. We aren't professionals, even though some of the group are darn near."
"It keeps the mind active," she also added.
This troupe definitely puts in the time and energy to ensure they will have a well polished show. Rehearsals start the first week after New Year's for the band with the dancers starting practice the following week. They generally practice at least once a week. In the spring the group will do mini-shows that last about an hour comprised of material from the previous year. They will visit senior communities such as Merrill Gardens and perform for people who might not be able to get out and see the summer series.
With shows at Spreckels Performing Arts Center this week people have a chance to come by and see what they are all about. They have shows today (Tuesday) at 1 p.m. as well as Thursday and Saturday at 1 p.m. Tickets are $15 for all seats.
Something new for this year will be the addition of using video projection to the backgrounds after one of the members, Gayle, took a class while in New York.