Long before Dorothy Marcic created Respect: A Musical Journey Of Women, Larry Gallagher created another musical journey of women called Beehive. This rollicking retrospective look at the girl groups and solo artists of the 1960s, as presented by the Stage Door Theatre, would be difficult not to enjoy. Whether bubble-gum sweet or hard-hitting rock-n-roll, the sounds of the sixties are bound to leave you tapping your foot and smiling along.
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. The early innocence of the teenagers of the country is 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 racial inequality led to a social awareness that was increasingly reflected in the music of the '60s. The deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and 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 successfully chronicles the changing role of women as defined by a decade of remarkable transition. The only structural flaw to the show is that it feels as though the intermission should fall after "The Beat Goes On" and the narrative that accompanies it, which speaks of great change. As presented, the end of the first act does not come until five songs later. Moving the intermission to after the song "The Beat Goes On" would also help to balance the uneven lengths of the two acts.
David R. Torres has designed a tiered set in pewter gray and walls with blocks of pastels against which kaleidoscopes of assorted shapes and flowers are projected. The show has a live five-piece onstage band, with some especially fine solo saxophone work by Charlie Arbelaez. Choreography by Ron Hutchins focuses on the stylized back-up dancing of the girl groups, and the ever-changing fad dances of the time. Costume designer Maria Contessa provides the right feel for the show with her period costumes. True to the show's advertisement, the hair is big, but the hits are bigger.
Jessie Alagna has a charmingly funny quality and the voice best suited for the smoother sounding songs. She is at her best in "Academy Award," "To Sir With Love," and the moving "Society's Child." Chyrlye Anne sounds like a cross between Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick, ripping through soulful numbers with vocal cords of steel. She pours it on in "You Don't Own Me," "Proud Mary," "Respect," and "Ball and Chain." Lori Nuti is wonderful singing as Diana Ross in a medley of "Where Did Our Love Go," "Come See About Me" and "I Hear a Symphony."
A young Lauren Carlberg does a serviceable job, but is clearly not as seasoned as her fellow cast members. Kimberley Xavier Martins is frequently used to weave in the narrative portions of the show, which she does with expression and ease. She is best in "The Beat Goes On," complete with Cher wig and costume. She and fellow Shaleah Adkisson seem to be short changed on solos, however. Shaleah has a lovely voice in "Don't Sleep In The Subway," and brings down the house with the help of Lori Nuti in the duet "A Natural Woman / Do Right Woman." This well written and extraordinarily well sung number is Beehive's show stopper!
Beehive will be appearing at the Stage Door's 26th Street Theatre through September 3, 2006, with possible extensions. The theatre is located at 1444 N.E. 26th Street in Wilton Manors. The Stage Door Theatre is a not-for-profit professional theatre company hiring local and non-local nonunion actors and actresses. Their two stages in Coral Springs as well as their 26th Street Theatre location are open year round. For tickets and information, you may contact them by phone at 954-344-7765 or on line at www.stagedoortheatre.com.
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