BEEHIVE, the 60's MusicalCreated by Larry Gallagher
CrossOver Arts Theatre
Director: William (Bill) Earl Ray
Music Direction: Will Beatty
Choreography: Bro. Gil Pritchett
Lighting Director: Jason Leyva
Costume Design: Andre Terry
Sound Design: Renay Hardy
Guest Artist ? Jacqui Cross
Reviewed Performance: 7/9/2011
Reviewed by Chris Jackson, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The show is a musical revue featuring the music of The Chiffons, Patti LaBelle, The Shirelles, The Supremes, Lesley Gore, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin and all the other greats from that "back in the day", lost in the mist of "remember when" time, the 60's. First presented in 1985, it ran for over 18 months Off-Broadway. Listening to those great songs makes it clear why it remains a huge success. With subject matter like "I need a boyfriend to be happy" to "I'm a woman and I can stand on my own," the music essentially takes us on a chronological trip through the changing attitudes of women as reflected in song at a pivotal time in history. The second act narration gets a little obvious and "preachy" as we move into the troubled assassination and Viet Nam era but the songs never cease to lift our spirits even when they address the issues.
This current production is the inaugural show of the newly formed CrossOver Theatre Company. They have assembled a cast of five women who are all talented in their own way and whose individual singing voices blend together in perfect harmony. The guest artist, Jacqui Cross, has a clarion voice that leads without overpowering. When she takes center stage, as she does in "The Name Game", "The Beehive Dance", and "The Beat Goes On", among others, she takes control of the space and rocks the rafters! Her narration is natural and unforced and her duet with Kyndal Robertson on "Do Right Woman" is a highlight of the show. Kyndal also makes her mark with "Proud Mary" in a Tina Turner wig, a silver spangled one-piece shorts suit and all the right moves.
Darby Branch comes on strong in several numbers including "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" and especially "Piece Of My Heart". Her Janis Joplin doesn't work as well as it might due to some amplification difficulties that also plague several other moments in the show. Her partner in the Joplin tribute, Barbara Filomeno, brings it all to the fore in "Don't Sleep on The Subway" and a fun rendition of "It's My Party".
Simone Gundy has personality and a smile that lights up the theatre. Her medley, beginning with "Where Did Our Love Go" backed by Jacqui and Kyndal, is the turning point of the first act. She performs that song, "Back In My Arms Again", "Come See About Me", "You Can't Hurry Love" and "I Hear A Symphony" with terrific skill and presence - a really memorable piece of musical entertainment. In all, these five ladies perform together like a well-rehearsed girl-group should: harmonizing as one or taking their turns in the spotlight with dash and determination.
The six piece orchestra (band?) sits onstage and is led by Will Beatty, Sr. on keyboards who also serves as Musical Director for the show. There's Mike Marlar on trombone, Keith Kennedy on sax, Ben Adkins on bass, Darrell Webb on guitar and Jeremiah Evans on drums. Together they make up a rockin' combo.
Director William (Bill) Earl Ray is also the Artistic Director of the newly formed CrossOver Theatre Company and the extensive choreography is by Bro. Gil Pritchett who manages to capture all those wonderful synchronized "girl-group" moves that we remember so well.
The set design is unaccredited but is a brightly hued pop-art/op-art backdrop that suits the piece very well and serves as a fitting backdrop for the show. The lighting by Jason Leyva does its part to set the tone and feel of each number, and the many costumes by Andre Terry are clever, varied and, for the most part, effective.
Fortunately, the small matinee audience didn't seem to affect the energy and commitment put into the show by all involved. Hopefully attendance will keep growing as the show continues its run. A new theatre company this ambitious deserves support, and if this show is any indication of the quality to come it should earn an audience happy to share in the experiences CrossOver is offering.
And finally, since every song in BEEHIVE, the 60's Musical seems to be about love in some form or other, here are a couple of quotes.
"There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something we'd all love one another." Frank Zappa
"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." Jimmy Hendrix
CrossOver Theatre Company at Corner Theatre
211 E. Pleasant Run Road, DeSoto, TX 75115
Runs through July 31st
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, & Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 pm
Tickets are $15.00 for matinees and $20.00 for evening performances. Call 972-230-4288 or 972-989-7530 or go to www.desotoartscommission.com