Review: Folks are swarming to the Beehive!

REVIEW

MILT THOMAS

Beehive, The 60’s Musical, now playing at Riverside Theatre is really more of a music revue, like last season’s opener, Smokey Joe’s Café. This time the spotlight is on “girl groups” and female solo artists of the 1960’s with about 40 hit songs from that decade. The six-woman troupe (and superb six piece backup band) belted out a string of memorable tunes with a twist – they begin in the early 60’s with love and boyfriend confections and end with the wild days of Woodstock.

The first act hits started with a novel rendition of “The Name Game,” the female angst of “It’s My Party” sung by suitably angst-ridden Kathryn Brunner, a Supremes-like trio of beehive hairdo warblers led by Tavia Rivee doing “Where Did Our Love Go,” and “Come See About Me.” They are two of the many great hits written and produced by Motown’s version of Lennon-McCartney, Lamont Dozier and the Holland brothers, Eddie and Brian. Other songs covered in the first act include “My Boyfriend’s Back,” the Shirelles’ Carole King hit, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” and even the Connie Francis hit turned movie, “Where the Boys Are,” sung by sound-alike Caitlyn Caughell.

By the second act, the beehives were gone and so were the refrains of first love gone wrong. The first first song, “Abraham, Martin and John,” showed these girl groups were women now.

The singers took turns giving their own renditions of classics that at times felt like the original artists themselves, especially in the second act. Karissa Harris stirred up the audience with her renditions of Tina Turner songs “River Deep Mountain High” and the iconic “Proud Mary,” complete with full length legs and electric hips. Avenna Sawyer sizzled as a doppelganger of Aretha Franklin belting out “Chain of Fools,” “Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You),” and the Carole King penned hit, “Natural Woman.”

Bailey Purvis then came out dressed like Janis Joplin but sounding like Gracie Slick singing “Somebody to Love.” Then she morphed into Janis on the Woodstock stage with “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)” and Kris Kristofferson’s tune, “Me and Bobby McGee.”

There were many more songs in rapid succession so the music never stopped and the show was over before the audience was finished. All six singers sang lead or backup and performed admirably. The backup onstage band led by Riverside regular, Anne Shuttlesworth, was truly outstanding and even featured a few spotlight guitar riffs by Manny Moreira.

Everything about the show (performers, staging, lighting, sound) was Broadway quality as always, so if you want to see a honey of a show, don’t miss Beehive, The 60’s Musical, playing through November 17 at the Riverside Theatre. Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 772-231-6990 or online at www.riversidetheatre.com.

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