The decade known as The Sixties contained so may different mini-eras it’s a wonder that those of us who lived through it didn’t all become split personalities. At times näive, hedonistic and fiercely political yet ignorant of events beyond the soda fountain, it’s the time in America when even the teenagers grew up.
Beehive suggests the evening will be all bobbysoxers and bouffants, but it’s really two shows in one- the first act is the bubble pop music of the early 1960s, with songs such as “The Name Game” and “It’s My Party”, and the second act addresses the Vietnam War and the seemingly endless assassinations of some of the heroes of the day, most notably President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King. As such, the show itself as originally created by Larry Gallagher chugs along intermittently, with the audience expected to reminisce fondly one moment and reflect seriously the next, with rather slapdash introductions by Mr. Gallagher in between songs. In other words, the flow is off.
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But that’s not the fault of director Monique Midgette or anyone on stage. Quite the opposite, for the six cast members Rebecca Ballinger, Allison Bradbury, Bethel Elias, Kayla Gross, Shayla Lowe and Hillary Morrow make up a powerhouse of voices and energy. Each gets a chance to shine, in particular, Shayla Lowe does a fierce Tina Turner impersonation with both “River Deep” and “Proud Mary”, and the entire company brought tears with “Abraham, Martin and John” with Allison Bradbury on guitar.
With Aretha Franklin, Grace Slick and Janice Joplin tributes, Act 2 is by far the strongest lineup; the songs are headier and more powerful, and the cast rises to the challenges of early rock. It’s almost unfair to compare it to Act 1, with such cotton candy songs as “Come See About Me” and “My Boyfriend’s Back,”all nice sweet songs that dissolve in a moment.
Yet it’s a fun evening. Costumes by Sandra Spence are bright candy colors and well researched. Brittany Shemuga’s lighting shows off the marvelous set by Scenic Designer Jack Golden, and the exceptionally fine six piece orchestra headed by Conductor Matthew Brown is worth the price of admission alone. It’s rather a pity they stayed hidden behind a scrim- why not show off your orchestra when it’s essentially a cabaret evening?
Beehive: The 60’s Musical closes September 22, 2019. Details and tickets
Choreography by Shalyce Hemby is energetic with some sloppy execution here and there – perhaps that’s to be forgiven due to the sheer number of stairs onstage, all while wearing white go-go boots!
Next Stop Theatre continues to offer bright and pleasing entertainment, and Beehive is right in their wheelhouse. Don’t go expecting an evening of deep thought and high culture- but do go to have a good time, and you won’t be disappointed.
Beehive . Created by Larry Gallagher . Director: Monique Midgette . Cast: Rebecca Ballinger, Allison Bradbury, Bethel Elias, Kayla Gross, Shayla Lowe, Hillary Morrow . Scenic Design: Jack Golden; Sound Designer: Kevin Alexander; Lighting Designer: Brittany Shamuga; Costume Design: Sandra Spence; Choreographer: Shalyce Hemby; Co-Music Directors: Marika Countouris, Matthew Winslow Brown; Hair Design: Maude Salon; Orchestra: Matthew Brown, Conductor/Keyboardist: Mitch Bassman, Allen Howe; Andrew Velez; Mark Davis; Rick Peralta; Jonas Creason; TJ Maistros Kendall Heywood; Production Stage Manager: Lauren Moody . Produced by NextStop Theatre . Reviewed by Jill Kyle-Keith.