KPBS AIRDATE: March 1, 2002
For many of us, the ’60s was the defining decade of our lifetime. And the seminal events of that era were marked by music. We females went from whiners to young women, from preteens to protesters. After the assassinations and the British invasion, we all lost our innocence — one way or another. Okay, maybe the all-girl musical revue “Beehive” isn’t making any political points or philosophical statements. But in taking us back to those times, it calls up a million memories — not only of living through the events, but exactly what we were doing when we first heard those songs — from “Where the Boys Are” and “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” to “Woodstock,” “Destiny’s Child,” “Piece of My Heart” and “Respect.” And the beat, as we are repeatedly reminded, goes on.
With its focus exclusively on girl groups, you could call this the female “Forever Plaid.” But though those irresistibly tight harmonies may have thrilled you, the songs didn’t break off a piece of your heart. And that show, while perennial and amusing, was dependent on the appeal of, well, plaid. “Beehive” doesn’t just have harmony — it has hair! — the titular, teased, tower of AquaNet spray, not to mention the flips, the Cher-dos and the wild abandon of the anti-war anti-style.
Not only do these women have to sing like the Shirelles, the Shangri-Las and the Supremes, they have to become Connie Francis, Brenda Lee, Leslie Gore and all those stellar one-namers: Tina, Janis, Joni, Cher and Aretha. And boy, can these six sing! Three of them were in the original, long-running “Beehive” production that inaugurated the Theatre in Old Town ten years ago. One of them, Laura Lamun, even stopped making music and theater (her funny-named health care products are for sale in the lobby). But she’s still a little spitfire in tremendous voice. Lucky for us, Lamun was brought in from Colorado and out of theatrical retirement by director Paula Kalustian and costumer/choreographer Jill Mesaros, who were all a-buzz about their “Beehive” anniversary production.
Other returnees are multi-talented actor/singers Lisa Payton-Davis (a terrific Tina Turner) and Colleen Sudduth (a super Joni Mitchell). Some other local ladies get to strut their stuff like never before: Joy Yandell definitely does Janis — she’s got the moves, the look and the wail. Jazz-singer Renae Mitchell brings down the house as Aretha. And Emily Mitchell, no relation, a soon-to-be grad of the Musical Theatre MFA program at San Diego State, is a knockout, with the grace, talent and charisma of a theatrical triple-threat. There’s no story in “Beehive,” just a walk down a musical memory lane, with a jukebox background and a boffo backup band, headed by hoppin’, boppin’ pianist Jasper Grant. Mindless fun, but a guaranteed good time — especially for us much-maligned Boomers! The kickin’ choreography and perfecto performances make you want to dance and cry and reminisce and make out and fall in love and get stoned and get angry and get involved all over again.
©2002 Patté Productions Inc