Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Also see John's review of Mamma Mia!
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre presents Larry Gallagher's Beehive: The 60's Musical. Done in the style of a musical revue, Beehive begins in 1960 and takes us on a chronological journey through the end of the decade. This rollicking retrospective look at the sounds of the 1960sfrom bubble-gum sweet girl groups to hard-hitting solo artistsoffers it's eager audiences a musical buffet.
In the early 1960s the innocence of the teenagers of the country was reflected in the popular songs of the time, such as "My Boyfriend's Back" and "One Fine Day." The end of the doo-wop era was met by the growth of Motown, the British Invasion, mainstream folk singers and rock-n-roll groups. Political unrest, the women's rights movement and the civil rights movement led to a social awareness that was increasingly reflected in the music. The deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and landing of the first man on the moon could not help but fuel the fire that propelled the music of the time. Singers like Brenda Lee were replaced by the likes of Janis Joplin. The clothing, hairstyles and familiar songs of the '60s provide a comfortable backdrop of pure fun. Through all of its fun however, Beehive musically chronicles the changing role of women as defined by a decade of remarkable transition.
This production of Beehive is tightly staged, well played, and outstandingly sung. The second act is far stronger than the first, however. The women begin the show at full throttle, full of sass and attitude. But that is exactly the problem with the direction of this part of the show. While singing the songs of the girl groups of the early '60s, they are without any of the soft edges and innocence of the time. If this is the story of the changing roles of women in the '60s, where is the progression? It weakens the impact of the lengthy narrative of the changing times as the first act draws to a close. More importantly, it mars the point of the show, in that we don't get to see the image of women go from Daddy's little girl to strong independent women.
The women of the cast sing every song with beautifully blended and balanced harmonies. The synchronized choreography of the first act's group numbers gives way to solo numbers in the second act that are tributes to the original singers of the famous songs. Lisa Estridge is at her best as Aretha Franklin in "Respect." Autumn Hurlbert does a nice job with the touching "Society's Child." Bridget Beirne seems to be the least experienced dancer in the first act, but pulls off an uncanny Janis Joplin imitation near the end of the show. Anastacia McCleskey shows off a powerfully soulful voice in "Academy Award" and sings a demanding trio of Tina Turner songs, including a showstopping "Proud Mary" that rivals Tina Turner in her prime. She is matched with the formidable talents of Felicia Boswell in the duet "A Natural Woman / Do Right Woman" which is the highlight of the evening. Together the two women are simply amazing. Felicia Boswell demonstrates great diversity. It is hard to believe that she so demurely sings the hits of Dianna Ross while imitating her trademark style, and then sings songs like "One Fine Day," "The Beehive Dance" and her duet with Stacy in a huge, skillful R & B voice that would put aspiring American Idols to shame.
Beehive will be presented at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through February 22, 2009. The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is a 550-seat, nonprofit, community-based Equity regional theatre belonging to the League of Resident Theatres, and the Florida Professional Theatre Association. This theatre employees both local and non-local Equity and non-union cast and crew members. The theatre is located at 1001 Indiantown Rd. (just off of A1A) in Jupiter, FL. Show times are Tuesday - Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 p.m.. For tickets to this show, and complete information on the theatre's offerings, you may contact them by phone at 561/ 575-3332 or 800/ 445-1666, and online at www.jupitertheatre.org.
*Designates member of Actor's Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
+Denotes member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Inc., an independent national labor union.