Tuesday, May 16, 2017

reviews - BEEHIVE - Phoenix Theatre

highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through June 4th.

"...Larry Gallagher’s Beehive the 60’s musical, directed and choreographed by Michael Jenkinson, is ...a theatrical, musical journey that takes its audience from one end of an undeniably volatile decade to the other...Even though the sixties was certainly a decade of unrest...Beehive is less concerned with its serious aspects...more interested in two things: fun and partying, as reflected in the pop/rock songs of those ever-changing ten years...Performed by six talented ladies, three black, three white, backed by Alan Ruch’s outstanding band...first half is a musical revue, while the second, shorter half is something quite different. Once the scene is set with an original song inviting us to turn back the clock sung by the show’s engaging narrator, Teshomech Olenja, the musical dives headfirst into its party atmosphere ...the show gives shape to the varying changes that occurred throughout the decade, with commentary from Teshomech setting the scene, adding a little perspective to the placement of the songs. Early Motown is represented by Brittney (Mack) leading the girls with three songs associated with The Supremes; Where Did Our Love Go, Come See About Me and I Hear a Symphony....from there, the show segues to a color-blind telling of a young girl’s fantasy, a belief that she’s close and personal friends to singers she hears on the radio...By the late sixties, pop/rock had evolved to such a degree that the Beehive period was almost as nostalgic a memory as it is today. Instead of a musical revue, the show delivers three mini-concerts presenting three very different style of performers who, each in their own, individual way, steal the show and practically overshadow everything you’ve seen before. Chanel Bragg’s Aretha Franklin sings an electrifying duet with Alyssa Chiarello, and Katie Hart practically tears the roof off with her Janis Joplin. But the crowd favorite was clearly Brittney’s powerhouse Tina Turner. ...Brittney’s kick-ass Tina Turner is alone worth the price of admission. You’ll leave the theatre beaming while wondering where you hid all your old sixties singles and whether that dusty ol’ turntable in storage still works." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"."Turn back the clock to the '60s," beckons the lyrics in the opening song of Beehive. Based on the crowd-pleasing roar and immediate standing ovation at the performance I attended at Phoenix Theatre, this travel back in time to the songs made famous by the girl groups and female singers of the 1960s is a most recommended journey. Created by Larry Gallagher...With over forty songs, ...it is a toe-tapping celebration of the importance of the music of the female singers of the '60s. Gallagher's narrative focuses on the changing styles of music along with key moments of the decade...and their relation to the rise of relevant social issues of that period. At first glance, Beehive might seem like a lightweight bit of fluff, with a lot of the first act spent on songs about silly school girl crushes ("Where the Boys Are"), silly jargon tunes ("The Name Game"), and the rise of the British Invasion on the music scene. But the inclusion of "The Beat Goes On" shows the shifting societal transition from the assassination of John F. Kennedy to the deadly impact of the Vietnam War and how the music of the decade both commented on these historical moments and gave a voice to the youth of the generation. The second act is firmly focused on a few powerhouse female vocalists, including Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, and Janis Joplin, who gave rise to songs about female strength and empowerment, numbers that comment on social issues or tortured passion. Director and choreographer Michael Jenkinson has done great work with this production. His staging and dances serve both the style of song and the singer, with plenty of high energetic dance steps that add to the enjoyment of these familiar tunes. The Phoenix Theatre production is colorful and vibrant with six excellent singers and a smoking band led by the always excellent music director Alan Ruch. ...Brittney Mack, Chanel Bragg and Katie Hart deliver superb portrayals of Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, and Janis Joplin, respectively, with their performances smartly more of an homage to these famous women instead of a straightforward impersonation.....Beehive smartly shows how the music of the 1960s was a reflection of the women of that period and how the songs and the female singers proved inspirational regarding how women viewed themselves and the world around them. ...Beehive at Phoenix theatre is a true celebration of the powerful songs and women of the 1960s. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"...  A dynamically nostalgic trip back to ‘60s girl group song hits explodes at Phoenix Theatre in the entertaining “Beehive”...enchants as the dynamic six-person cast convincingly portrays the solo singers and groups that brought female musical stars and their song hits to the popularity that had eluded these singers before this turbulent period of change. The ensemble brings 40 songs to vivid life from a rich collection that includes “One Fine Day,” “It’s My Party,” “Where the Boys Are,” “Downtown,” “To Sir With Love,”  “”A Natural Woman,”...an engagingly staged and explosively choreographed production by Michael Jenkinson...Alan Ruch exuberant conducting makes the music throb with dashing pizzazz.  ." --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

COMING SOON - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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