“Beehive” in Living Color at the Wick Theatre
By Skip Sheffield
Talk about a colorful show; “Beehive” is it, playing through May 14 at the Wick Theatre, 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
“Beehive” is more a musical revue than a full-on musical, directed by Jonathan Van Dyke. However the Wick production has so many bells and whistles, including split-second costume changes by seven enormously talented women, early 60s vintage television set pieces, video screen projections to accompany songs, and an onstage live band on a riser in the back to remind you this is live theater, not a recording.
Agent and producer Larry Gallagher created “Beehive” in the mid-1980s partly in answer to the popular male group revue, “Forever Plaid.” The show covers the decade from the innocent dawn of the 1960s to its turbulent finale amidst Vietnam War protests. The journey is enabled through popular “girl group” songs as well as emerging solo artists.
The show begins cleverly with a giant TV picture back drop with the seven stars of the show appearing in black-and-white as if on a 1960s variety show. A scrim is parted and the women appear in living color, in the first set of Technicolor costumes created by the theater’s own Kimberley Wick. You don’t have to be of a certain age to appreciate the show’s vintage hits, because they have become part of America’s soundtrack. The opening number is one of the few crafted especially for the show. Few people remember the name Shirley Ellis, but almost everyone recognizes her big hit “The Name Game.” This novelty tune serves as introduction to the seven cast members: Sarah Amengual, Amitria Fanae, Kristina Huegel, Shelley Keelor, Trisha Jeffrey, Mallory Newbrough and Leah Sessa. As the show unfolds each woman will reveal a special talent. Trisha Jeffrey is in the spotlight first, but it is with “Academy Award” that Trisha unveils her secret weapon: a thrilling gospel-powered wail that will amaze.
Kristina pays tribute to the late, great Leslie Gore with “It’s My Party” with Shelley, Leah and Mallory.
Amitria honors Motown with “Where Did Our Love Go” followed by “Come See About Me,” with Sarah and Trisha.
Adorable Leah commands the stage with “Walking in the Rain” and a cheeky “My Boyfriend’s Back.”
Shelley reveals her torch singer prowess with Carole King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” and she moves effortlessly to pop with “Then He Kissed Me.”
“Beehive Dance” is a one-off number that showcases the dancing talent of the ladies, choreographed by Angela Mordano-Taylor and the director.
In Act Two, Amitria channels Tina Turner with “River Deep Mountain High” and John Fogarty’s “Proud Mary.”
The mood turns more somber with headlines screaming the assassination of John F. Kennedy, then moves to the later 60s with Sarah’s salute to Aretha Frankin’s “Chain Of Fools” and Kristina’s tribute to Grace Slick in “Somebody to Love.”
Out of left field comes Mallory, paying tribute to tortured Janis Joplin, starting with a rafter-shaking “Cry Baby.” I am old enough to have seen Janis live once. By then her voice was ravaged. Mallory’s is not, but she shares Joplin’s passion and despair. It is a show-stopping moment.
“Beehive” has one show-stopping moment after another, finishing with Leah leading the parade with “Make Your Own Kind of Music,” backed by a crack ensemble led by Caryl Fantel. “Beehive” solves no world problems, but it lets you forget them for two hours or so.
Tickets are $75-$80. Call 561-995-2333 or go to www.thewick.org.