Wild Hairs

Some off-key performances produce a limp Beehive.

Beehive Carousel Dinner Theatre, 1275 East Waterloo Road, Akron Through February 24, 800-362-4100
There has probably never been a decade in America that experienced such enormous change as the 1960s. In just 10 years, we went from J.F.K. to Tricky Dick, from the first Coke sold in a can to the first implanted artificial heart. In music, the Grammy Award for song of the year evolved from Percy Faith's mushy "Theme From A Summer Place" to the hippie anthem "Aquarius."

It's the mission of Larry Gallagher's musical revue Beehive, now at the Carousel Dinner Theatre, to relive the musical changes of the '60s by revisiting the female singers and girl groups that were prominent in those comatose-turned-tumultuous years. Featuring a cast of six energetic young women, the production is endearingly hardworking but quite uneven, even down to a highly questionable costuming decision.

Thankfully, the tunes are arranged chronologically, so those who weren't around at the time can appreciate the scope of musical transformation. Danielle M. Garner, oozing personality, kicks off the proceedings by introducing her co-performers through "The Name Game." But then, except for a nice turn on "One Fine Day," Garner and her engaging stage presence virtually disappear.

That leaves it up to the other five singers to carry the load, and some are up to the task. Christine Mild's powerful pipes do justice to the Angels' "My Boyfriend's Back," and later she nails Connie Francis (appropriately, lopsided black wig firmly in place) on "Where the Boys Are." Short and sassy Val Moranto trills the Shirelles' "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," asking the title's eternal question of any teenage girl in a lip-lock with a boy. She also does a bang-up job poking fun at Brenda Lee's hiccupy singing style on "I'm Sorry," while LaDonna Burns turns in a sultry "Do Right Woman."

But there are many misfires in this tune-packed (33 of 'em) journey. Attempting to poke fun at ego-queen Diana Ross, Benai Boyd gives no evidence of comic impulse or timing as she meanders across the stage while going through the motions in a Supremes medley. And Alena Watters decides to mug her way through "It's My Party," instead of searching for the weepy bubblegum tragedy at the heart of Lesley Gore's teary melody.

Although there are some well-executed costumes by Dale DiBernardo (the Connie Francis frock is hysterically over-the-top), the most egregious error is when Boyd appears as Tina Turner in a swirly knee-length dress. Tina will never wear a dress that long and loose when she's 95, let alone at her peak, when she was belting out "Proud Mary" and ducking Ike's roundhouse rights.

Director-choreographer Donna Drake keeps the pace lively, but allows too many clunky performances. Sadly, the show ends on the worst of these, as Moranto is not up to the task of embodying Janis Joplin. Swinging a bottle of Jack Daniel's (yeah, she drank it, but she preferred Southern Comfort), Moranto's Janis is a screechy and pale imitation of the legend, whose fatal overdose in 1970 drew the curtain down on a decade to remember.

About The Author

Christine Howey

Christine Howey has been reviewing theater since 1997, first at Cleveland Free Times and then for other publications including City Pages in Minneapolis, MN and The Plain Dealer. Her blog, Rave and Pan, also features her play reviews. Christine is a former stage actor and director, primarily at Dobama Theatre...
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