Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Bill Hanney’s Theatre by the Sea’s first musical of their 84th season is “Beehive”, the 1960’s musical. This musical is a wild toe-tapping, head shakin’ musical tribute to the rockin’ women who made the 60’s and 70’s so special. It includes everyone from Lesley Gore to Janis Joplin, from the Shirelles to the Supremes, Aretha Franklin to Tina Turner and everyone in between. “Beehive” will have you dancing in the aisles. It starts off with Beehive hairdos and long skirts to free flowing hair and hippie fashions.
The first act features songs like “It’s My Party”, “Where the Boys Are”, “To Sir With Love” by Lulu and “Where Did Our Love Go?” by the Supremes. The second act contains songs from Tina Turner including “River Deep, Mountain High” and “Proud Mary”, from Aretha Franklin, “A Natural Woman” and “Respect” and Janis Joplin, “Piece of My Heart” and “Me and Bobby McGee.” Russell Garrett directs his six powerhouse female vocalists excellently while recreating the bygone day of the 1960’s with song and dance that enthrall the audience all night long. The first act captures the girls yearning for their man while the second act shows how the women became empowered as the decade wore on. What a way to open the new season at Theatre by the Sea which is my 45th year of attending shows at this historic theatre.
Asher Denburg is the musical director of this high energy musical entertainment. He conducts a 7 piece orchestra and makes the harmonies soar in the group numbers Russell’s dance numbers capture the time period including the Twist, the swim, the mashed potato and the original performers signature moves, too. The talented cast is comprised of Alana Cauthen, Karissa Harris, Kendall Hope, Inuka Ivaska, Amanda Lea La Vergne and Merrill Peiffer. Russell gives each performer their moment to shine in this show. Alana Cauthen’s belting voice is heard in “Academy Award” and in “Natural Woman” where she astounds the crowd as Aretha Franklin. Karissa mesmerizes the crowd in Act 2 as Tina Turner in “River Deep, Mountain High” and “Proud Mary.” Kendall shines in “It’s My Party” and “Son of a Preacher Man.” Inuka narrates a lot of the show and starts it off with the comic “”The Name Game” when each of the girls introduce themselves as well as the poignant opening of the second act “Abraham, Martin and John.” The most versatile performer is Amanda who plays a comic dumbell for most of Act 1 and then turns on a dime in a poignant moment at the start of Act 2 when she describes the death of a friend in Vietnam. Her splendid voice is heard in “Where the Boys Are” and especially in “Somebody to Love.” Merrill is astounding as Janis Joplin in “Try Just a Little Bit Harder” and “Me and Bobby McGee.” I reviewed her before at Foothills Theatre in “Rocky Horror Show”, “As Bees in Honey Drown” and “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” all directed by Russell. So for a marvelous way to start off the summer season at Theatre by the Sea, be sure to catch “Beehive”, it will leave you remembering all the carefree days of the 1960’s music. A word of praise to all the colorful costumes by Dana Pinkston.
BEEHIVE ( 31 May to 18 June)
Theatre by the Sea, 364 Cards Pond Road, Matunuck, RI
1(401)782-8587 or www.theatrebythesea.com