Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
The innocence of the early '60s was reflected in the popular songs of the time, such as "It's My Party" and "One Fine Day." The decline of the doo-wop era was followed by the growth of Motown, the British Invasion, mainstream folk singers, and rock 'n' roll groups. Political unrest and the civil rights movement led to a level of social awareness that was increasingly reflected in the music. Events such as the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and the 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 ones like Janis Joplin. In music as in real life, the woman of 1970 was very different from the woman of 1960.
The Wick production of Beehive features a cast of seven and a live, six-piece onstage band. The band as led by musical director Caryl Fantel plays beautifully, and the ensemble blend, general clarity and volume of all the performers is quite good. The choreography makes good use of the stage and provides depth and levels, but is not always quite as synchronized as it needs to be.
The detail paid to the ever-changing clothing and hairstyles of the cast is remarkable. The Wick Theatre has made great use of its Costume World resources to costume the show (a Shirley Bassey "Goldfinger" dress is particularly stunning), and I lost count of how many wig changes each cast member has to make. The set is framed with a colorful use of lighting and projections splashed across the stage. The combination of these elements provides a visually engaging production.
The fun, nostalgic songs of the first act give way to solo numbers in the second act that are tributes to the original singers of the famous songs. Sassy, red-headed Leah Sessa is at her best when crooning the Lulu hit "To Sir with Love." A tall Kristina Huegel delivers a defiant rendition of "You Don't Own Me." Huegel is also the strongest dancer in the cast, and a pleasure to watch in the group numbers. A lovely Shelley Keelor sings impassioned versions of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" and "Natural Woman." She consistently shines in every vocal solo moment she is provided. She is not quite as polished on her choreography as the other cast members, however.
Sarah Amengual captures the sweet, plaintive sound of Connie Francis to perfection in "Where the Boys Are," and reveals an awesome vocal belt in "Chain of Fools." Amitria Fanae does a fantastic job in the second act singing the classic Tina Turner hits "River Deep, Mountain High" and "Proud Mar.y. Trisha Jeffrey has a glorious Motown sound in her voice that stands out from the first time she opens her mouth. Her performance of "Goldfinger" is spectacular. The surprise of the evening, however, is Mallory Newbrough's portrayal of Janis Joplin. Her appearance, her mannerisms, and her raw emotional connection to the songs are paired with a spot on vocal imitation that is uncanny. Newbrough's focus and commitment to the character and the moment, in addition to the song, are remarkable. It is hard to imagine anyone getting closer to capturing Joplin.
The production seems to fly by quickly, and though it would not be possible for the cast to sing all of your favorites from the time period, surely they tackle a few of them. The broad spectrum of musical styles covered in this one decade has something to please nearly everyone's taste.
Beehive: The 60's Musical will be presented at The Wick Theatre through May 14, 2017, at 7901 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton, Florida. Scheduled performances for this production are matinees Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm; evenings Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm. Tickets are $75 and $80. For more information you may contact them by phone at 561-955-2333, 561-955-2333 or online at www.thewick.org.
*Designates member of Actor's Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.