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LA Theater Review

Beehive - The '60s Musical

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Not a jukebox musical but a music revue, "Beehive" flies through all or part of 40 songs—two written for the show and the rest of them spanning the eclectic array of popular female performers of the 1960s. Director Dan Mojica keeps the tone light and the pace fast, and six veteran singers provide accurate impersonations, assisted by Christa Armendariz's costume designs and a tight eight-piece band.

Created in the mid-1980s by the late Larry Gallagher, "Beehive" runs chronologically, from beehive hairdos and long skirts to free-flowing hair and hippie fashions. The music shifts dramatically as well, from early girl groups (the Chiffons, the Shirelles, the Supremes) to the solo work of Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, and Aretha Franklin. Stacy Francis wins the belting contest with her impersonation of Franklin, vamping heavily on "A Natural Woman." Kamilah Marshall, as Turner, dances with abandon during "Proud Mary." And Tricia Kelly's portrayal of Brenda Lee for "I'm Sorry" is uncanny. Karole Foreman serves as the show's narrator, offering bits of information about the era to give the songs greater context, accented by Mojica's use of projected video and still images. Foreman's straightforward delivery is engaging, and it provides needed breaks among the nearly nonstop music. More humor is needed during the two-hour performance, but a little interplay between the performers and the audience during "The Name Game" provides a few laughs.

Christopher Beyries' set is a whimsical re-creation of the stages used on TV music shows of the era—highlighted by a pair of ceiling-tall canisters of Aqua Net hairspray. Jared A. Sayeg's lighting design, dominated by soft pastels, sets a fun tone. No one is likely to leave the theater thinking about much, but they certainly could be singing one of these classics all the way home.

Presented by Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach.  Sept. 18–Oct. 3. Tue.–Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.  (310) 372-4477. www.civiclightopera.com.

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