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‘Beehive: The 60’s Musical’ at Marriott Theatre is a fun way to revisit the songs of an era

Review: “Beehive: The 60’s Musical” (3 stars)

Back in the mid-1980s, the late Larry Gallagher came up with the idea for a woman-focused 1960s pop music revue — which is roughly the equivalent now of putting together music of the first decade of the 21st century (yikes!).

Gallagher, a booker of talent for a New York nightclub named Sweetwaters in New York, had plenty to work with: Lesley Gore, Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Dusty Springfield and many others. He scoured the Top 10 lists for each year in the decade, wrote some simple linking text to connect the songs and draw in the audience, figured out a catchy title and did his best to pretend that what we think of as the 1960s actually ended in 1969. More importantly, he got the rights to the songs people wanted to hear.

“Beehive” was a massive hit (Gore was an investor herself) and it ran for more than 600 off-Broadway performances; Gallagher alas died in 1988 at the age of just 41.

The 1960s was the decade wherein many of Marriott’s mostly retired subscribers spent their youths, and those present had a good time Wednesday night. The director and choreographer Deidre Goodwin has closed down the famous Marriott musical booth for the summer and pulled out her all-woman six-piece band and made them part of the circular action on the stage itself (hooray), where they join the warm-centered cast members Emma Grace Bailey, Grace Bobber, Lucy Godinez, Miciah Lathan, Aisha Sougou and in, the narrative role, Leah Morrow.

Morrow, a charming performer who rarely puts a foot wrong in any show, generally plays character roles (I still consider her rendition of “There’s a Fine, Fine Line”  as Kate Monster in “Avenue Q” at the Mercury to be definitive) and it’s great to see get the chance to really relate to her audience, although it took me a while to recognize her under the wig. The performers change costumes several times, so costume designer Amanda Vander Byl gets to feature some zesty retro attire as the women morph, seamlessly enough, from “It’s My Party” to “Proud Mary” on Collette Pollard’s witty set.  Shows like this are structured so that audience members get to relive their younger selves and, while there are no big risks or surprises here, everyone clearly understands what “Beehive” is supposed to be.

The singing is solid throughout, the show bops happily along and the audience gets to play “The Name Game.” The show is a crisp and cheerful 85 minutes and, at Wednesday night’s opening, everyone was headed home even while it still was light outside.