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Beehive: The 60’s Musical

*****  Chicago is currently home to two major musical productions where the number 6 is of great importance. First, the touring company of “Six” where we meet 6 of Henry the 8ths wives, and now, the musical “Beehive The 60’s Musical” where six amazing women bring us the music of the times along with the story of women becoming noticed.

The 60’s! A time for great rock n’ roll music and lady performers like Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Diana Ross and a slew of other ladies that those of us around listened to and knew every word of. There are a number of people that feel that “Beehive The 6o’s Musical” is a take-off on “Hairspray”, but it is truly a different look at a similar time period, and with a totally different story.

The production now onstage at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire is a powerful look at the music of the 60’s and the women that made it spectacular. Directed and choreographed by Deidre Goodwin, with a cast of 6 amazing (and highly talented women) this is more like a concert with a history lesson than a play. Created by Larry Gallagher, this is a story of the women and their movement during a period in history where women began to shine on their own and blossom both in the entertainment world and the business world.

This is a 90 minute ( no intermission) show that will capture you from the start to the finish. While I am unsure as to the reaction of young audience members, I know that people who lived through the 60’s will be in heaven, thinking back to the times in their lives when the world was unique and we were going through the learning experiences of maturation.

Just like “Six”, the band in this production is also all female, led by Celia Villacres (keyboard), with Karli Bunn (sax), Kellin Hanas (Trumpet/she is sensational), Stephanine Chow (guitar and amazing), Lauren Pierce (bass), and Camila Mennitte (drums). These ladies are terrific!! They work well as an ensemble and each performer does their own thing with style , grace and a load of talent. You will find yourself falling in love( several times).

The story begins with Leah Morrow (note: over the years, I have seen this actress do many a supporting and ensemble role, but until today, never a major part. She can truly do it all. She is adorable, plays well with the audience and has a voice that I never expected- look for more from this talented young woman). As we get into the music and folklore of the 60’s we meet the other five performers: Emma Grace Bailey, Grace Bobber,  Michah Lathan, Aisha Sougou and Lucy Godinez.- they are all powerful and they all bring their own flavor to the songs they do.

Be prepared for thunderous applause and perhaps a standing ovation or two during this concert with a story. From “The Name Game” ( where they get the audience involved for the first time), “It’s My Party”, “I’ll Never Change Him”, “My Boyfriend’s Back”, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and almost 26 other numbers, you will find yourselves clapping your hands, stamping your feet and glad to be alive. There is even a segment where we hear about November 1963 and the Kennedy Assassination and a wonderful rendition of ” What A Wonderful World” (Abraham, Martin and John)  without Louie Armstrong- these women evoked a tear in my eye ( I was in college on that fateful day).

If you were born after the 60’s, you missed some great times, but watching these fabulous ladies make this story happen, will be a history lesson that will show you how women evolved thru time and music. And you will say to yourselves “What A Wonderful World”!

On the tech side, the set (Collette Pollard) is constructed in a way that allows every seat to be able to see each performer do her thing. Amanda Vander’s costumes are amazing and a special hats off to the dressers offstage who make the quick changes these ladies need done– they are terrific! Miguel A. Armstrong’s wigs (of which there are many) are wonderful and once again, whoever makes the changes during this decade of music is right on! The lighting (Jesse klug) and sound (Michael Daly) were prefect and while we do not see a lot of props in the actual show, take a look above the stage and you will see one of the greatest assembly of 60’s items you will ever see thanks to the work of Sally Zack, who is a genius.