Updated: Mar 18, 2019
★★★☆☆ - Satisfying
Those oldies but goodies remind us of our youth. Well, some of us. But you don’t have to be a Baby Boomer to enjoy the production of “Beehive,” by Larry Gallagher, now running on the mainstage at Las Vegas Little Theatre.
“Beehive” is what is known as a ‘juke box’ musical; it’s filled with songs loosely connected thematically by a few lines of dialogue between each number. This one places its focus on the girl groups and female pop vocalists of the 60s. They’re all meant to be fun; an evening’s entertainment. Don’t look for deep characters or any type of message. Just sit back and enjoy.
As directed and choreographed by E. Wayne Worley, it’s a fast-paced show. He used a wonderful, colorful set from end to end, with few lulls in the action. Because this type of show is all about the vocals and the movement, this one pretty much hit the mark on the former and slightly missed on the latter.
Led with a great bit of panache in narration by Isabella Rooks, Jillian Austin, Malia Blunt, Evelyn Connors, Breonna Dobbs, Cherity Harchis, Nakaze Harris, and Kaci Machacyk are having a lot of fun and it shows. Moving into the audience to engage and encourage, these ladies all have the goods.
To introduce us to the time the country lost its innocence, the ensemble, led by Harchis and Machacyk, sang a beautiful harmonized rendition of “Abraham, Martin, and John.” The staging and Ginny Adams’ lighting brought the proper tone.
Particular stand-outs were Harchis with “It’s My Party” and “You Don’t Own Me.” Though I refuse to give away how, she brought the script to life with her interpretation of Leslie Gore. Connors followed that up with a slightly naughty Annette Funicello. Would Annette shake her caracas? Never. But that’s what made it fun.
Worley could have – and should have – taken some liberties with this. Not by changing the script or songs – that is illegal without express permission of the playwright. But, he could have extended a couple of the numbers which were cut short in the arrangements. When you have the likes of Nakaze Harris and Kaci Machacyk even the playwright wouldn’t have groused.
Though Machacyk didn’t have the raspy, half-scream in her Janis Joplin, she sure managed to bring Connie Francis proper sparkle. Sadly, she’s given only a single verse and a couple repeat choruses of “Where the Boys Are.” Worley should have given her the spotlight and the entire song. She has the vocal ability and the talent to have knocked it out of the park.
Harris brought a wonderful Aretha Franklin, and she, too, should’ve been given freedom with “Natural Woman.” She has the commanding presence, the power, and the range to nail that number from beginning to end, and it was disappointing to have been denied that treat.
Details mean just as much with a musical as they do with a play. With no props (per se) to deal with, what disappointed here was a lack of precision in movement through the entirety. This is where Worley and his assistants, Michael Sullivan (Asst. Director) and Hallie Lyons (Asst. Choreographer) fell short. Singing groups have always been perfectly in time with hand and arm motions, and small dance steps.
Some cast members came in late, and many of the dance moves were poorly executed. Body positions didn’t match up, and steps were given lackluster delivery. The shimmy is a signature of Tina Turner’s shows – it’s what audiences expect with anticipation, as did the sell-out crowd of opening night. They didn’t quite get that indulgence. The Ikettes on “Proud Mary” lacked commitment on the upper body thrusts; another signature move.
That is not to say that the show isn’t good. It’s a fine production. And, if you go, you’ll have a blast. You’ll leave with a smile on your face and songs in your head, and that’s the whole point of a juke box musical.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday - Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday through July 30
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff drive
Tickets: $25 (702-362-7996; www.lvlt.org)
Grade: *** (Satisfying)
Producer: Las Vegas Little Theatre; Director: E. Wayne Worley; Sound Design: Sandy Stein; Set Design: Ron Lindblom, E. Wayne Worley; Lighting Design: Ginny Adams; Costume Design: Rose Scarborough; Stage Manager: Chris Davies, Kendra Harris; Deck Hand: Raphael Daniels