BEEHIVE: THE 60'S MUSICALCreated by Larry Gallagher
Director—William (Bill) Earl Ray
Musical Director—Aimee Hurst Bozarth
Scenic Designer – Bryan Wofford
Lighting Designer –Nikki Deshea Smith
Sound Designer – Michael Vazquez
Costume Designer – Barbara O’Donoghue
Mattie—Mattie Lillian Davis
Reviewed Performance: 8/4/2017
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
During my adolescence and into adulthood, the music is what connected me with my Dad. Both of us audiophiles, we would often discuss trivia, listen to albums together, and try to “stump each other” with crazy tidbits of trivia, and having music nights, where we would listen to music all night. My Dad always used to tell me that when he was “growing up in the 1960’s, some of the greatest music of his generation was emerging. Album after album would be released-each one sounding unique and different from the one before.” From the British Invasion to the Psychedelic Sound of the Monterrey Pop Festival to the Mother of all rock music festivals-Woodstock, the 1960’s was the first time that the adolescence of America (and the world) heard innovative sounds, new sub-genres, and the songs that would shape and define the aspects of our lives.
Set Designer Bryan Wofford nicely transformed the stage of the Jubilee Theater into a colorful and functional set. There was a simple, yet, functional platform in the middle of the stage that allowed this talented ensemble of women to pay tribute to some of the biggest names of the 1960’s music scene. I was absolutely in love with the large 60’s style flowers that were painted on the back wall, and the psychedelic color swirl that was painted on the floor. During the entire production, I felt as if I was sitting in the audience of the Ed Sullivan Show watching these energetic and skilled musical giants for the first time. Mr. Wofford incorporated elements of Googie architecture- a very futuristic form of modern architecture influenced by the Space Age. On both sides of the stage, there were 3 large silver columns with large circles that framed the stage nicely, and provided that touch of the Googie architecture. Scenic designs were simple in design, but, incredibly functional. Audience were successfully transported to the mod and swingin’ 60’s. Mr. Wofford’s scenic designs certainly delivered a colorful backdrop to highlight the phenomenal talents of these young women.
Lighting was designed by Nikki Deshea Smith. Lighting, like the scenic design, was very color-filled and vibrant. The mood was clearly established as the audience was drawn into the turbulent 60’s. Lighting was very playful and practical. It was a treat to see some lovely silhouettes of the actresses throughout the story and each musical performance. The mood was established early and remained solidly consistent throughout the production. Much like the vibrant colors of the scenic backdrop, the lighting relied heavily on the quintessential colors of pink, purple, blue, and orange to compliment the themes and moods the music. It was lovely to see the lighting compliment the stage, and to truly bring the audience into the moment of the music.
Costumes were designed by Barbara O’Donoghue. O’Donoghue designed costumes that also worked well with the scenic and the lighting designs. The costumes were kaleidoscopic- giving each fictional character and each real-life celebrity portrayal a very prismatic and vibrant visual aspect to their characters. I enjoyed seeing details in each costume that represented an aspect of each character. Not only were the costumes visually pleasing, but, they provided quite a bit of texture to each character. It was everything that I would expect to see. From the instantly recognizable white tassel dress worn by Tina Turner during her “Proud Mary” performance, to Janis Jopiin’s multi-colored blouses during her Woodstock performance. Ms. O’Donoghue successfully recreates one of my favorite decades of fashion, and collaborates with the scenic and the lighting designs nicely.
It’s very difficult for me to recognize a single standout performance. The entire ensemble of women brought an element of nostalgia to the performance. Each member of the small ensemble was full of musical talent, and paid the appropriate homage to these rockin’ women of the 1960’s. From Devin Berg’s humorous portrayal of Lesley Gore (“It’s My Party”) in young Nikka’s bedroom, to the powerful vocal performance of the original “diva” Aretha Franklin, portrayed by the talented Ayanna Edwards. Ms. Edwards performance really brought down the house with her enthusiastic and spirited performance of (“Respect”) a popular crowd favorite, and anthem of women of all ages.
Jenna Meador pulled double duty as choreographer and as a talented member of the ensemble who brought one of my favorites, Texas native Janis Joplin back to the stage again. Ms. Meador gave a spot-on portrayal of the hard-livin’ queen of rock and blues. It was enjoyable to hear crowd favorite “Me and Bobby McGee” by Kris Kristofferson, and “Try (just a little bit harder)”, a song that does not get much air time these days, except on those satellite radio stations playing non-mainstream deep album cuts. Ms. Meador did justice to Ms. Joplin, and was able to bring her spirit and her music back to the stage at Jubilee Theatre on Friday evening.
Mattie Liilian Davis, and Kyndal Robertson brought their expertise and flair to the stage portraying 60’s vocal heroines Brenda Lee and Tina Turner. Both of these women were certainly an accurate and honest portrayal of these women-complete with their own unique and different sound. It is evident to me that there was a great amount of time invested in listening to their vocal performances. Ms. Davis and Ms. Robertson conveyed an honest account of both of these singers, among others in the 1960’s female popular songbook.
Rounding out the talented ensemble of six was Nikka Morton. Ms. Morton was the bridge between the audience and this eclectic and talented group of singers. Ms. Morton wonderfully narrated the story of the turbulent 60’s through the eyes of her adolescence, and provided the audience with nostalgic reflections, humorous quips, and an impressive vocal performance during the tribute to the Chiffons (“One Fine Day”), The Shirelles, and of course, Diana Ross and the Supremes.
The best moment for me was hearing the song made famous by “Mama” Cass Elliot, (“Make Your Own Kind of Music.”) This is one of my favorite songs, and these women chronicled in Beehive really did “make their own kind of music.”
Beehive: The 60’s Musical is definitely worth seeing. Whether you remember of the 1960’s from first-hand experience, or (like me) you were introduced to the songbook of all of these great artists, you are guaranteed a swingin’ time at the Jubilee Theatre in Fort Worth. It’ll be one far out, and groovy experience!
Jubilee Theatre 506 Main Street Fort Worth, Texas 76102
Plays through August 27th.
Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 3:00 pm
Additionally, 2 Saturday Matinees on August 19 and 26th at 3:00 pm.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, please call: (817) 338-4411 or email: email@example.com Please note: Reservations are not accepted via email.
For more information, please visit the box office Tuesday - Friday, noon to 6:00 pm, or one hour prior to every performance.
Ticket prices range from $29.00-$33.00, depending on day and time.