THEATER REVIEW: “Beehive” @ Great Lakes Theater by Laura Kennelly

Photo by Roger Mastroianni

Through Sun 5/20

Celebrate the 1960s in an evening? Tough job, but the Great Lakes Theater’s production of Larry Gallagher’s Beehive: The ’60s Musical now playing at the Hanna Theatre brings it off and makes retro something wonderful.

Beehive? No bees in sight, but yeah, the show’s named after the ridiculous hairstyle that girls spent ages poofing and back-combing into shape. But the name works and ensures that no one need take it as more than a night of musical exuberance dedicated to the youth of that era.

The song-filled production, directed by Victoria Bussert, hits the highs and the lows of the decade. It moves from the fresh and nostalgic to the strident with songs of protest and mourning as the years pass. With songs such as “One Fine Day,” “It’s My Party,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “Chain of Fools,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Where the Boys Are,” “And Then He Kissed Me” and “Be My Baby,” we get to hear quick versions of over two dozen hits of the 1960s. Music director Matthew Webb and his small band moved seamlessly from tune to tune.

The simple set designed by Jeff Herrmann — six chairs, mics when needed, colorful horizontal panels of light the singers could vanish behind and appear from — worked perfectly as did the period costumes designed by Esther M. Haberlen. A constant stream of dance moves arranged by choreographer Gregory Daniels added greatly to the show and completed the 1960s recreation.

But Beehive belongs to the Queen Bees — the six dynamic young women who breathed life into the featured golden oldies. When the show began they were decked out in pastel dresses with full skirts, but by the time the show was over, the fluffy petticoats were ditched, and glitz and sexy looks dominated. Alternating ensemble and solo songs showed talent galore. Adrianna Cleveland, Annalise Griswold, Shelby Griswold, Christiana Perrault, Camille Robinson and Hannah-Jo Weisberg kept us dazzled with their conviction, talent, and energy (They didn’t let it show, but it sure seemed like a workout from where I sat).

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended highly. It’s fluff — a refreshing bit of lightness–just made for summer.

[Written by Laura Kennelly]

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