Beehive, the ‘60s Musical, now playing on Florida Studio Theatre’s mainstage, is apparently doing gangbuster business (since it’s been extended through July 11), and it’s easy to see why: There just seems to be a never-ending lust for nostalgia among the baby boomer crowd, and, after all, there were an awful lot of good tunes spun during that decade.
Of course, Beehive, with an energetic and talented all-female cast, focuses only on the songs performed by the women of the era. The setup for the show is simple: Act I gives us songs of the early ’60s girl groups, from the Shirelles to the Chiffons to the Supremes; Act II gives us the more liberated era of the later ’60s, when Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin ruled.
If those names summon up happy memories of listening to songs like One Fine Day, It’s My Party, Downtown and Me and Bobby McGee, you’re the target audience for Beehive. The Name Game introduces us to the cast members, each of whom uses her own real first name for her “character.” In one of the best sequences of Act I, we attend a Lesley Gore party, where she (Lauren Lebowitz), Brenda Lee (Allison Couture), Annette Funicello (Sadrina Renee) and Connie Francis (also Couture) sing about boys and all that stuff.
We also see Diana Ross (Renee again), along with the aforementioned Turner (Laiona Michelle) and Joplin (Lori Eure). Stringing together the show’s thin narrative threads is Michelle Pruett, who, in snippets of monologue, looks back at such historic moments as the assassination of President Kennedy and Woodstock.
The women are all given a chance to shine in their various roles, and most audience members will probably react especially strongly to the hard-driving, booty shaking Turner/Michelle and the gutsy Joplin/Eure numbers. Costume designer April Soroko does a fine job taking us from the era of poodle skirts and ponytails to the more elegant attire of Diana Ross and the more outlandish outfits of Turner and Joplin.
But, aside from The Beat Goes On number toward the end of Act I, in which Pruett leads us through the more somber Vietnam and civil rights struggle years, there’s not much of an emotional connection to what we see onstage. The evening passes pleasantly enough, but I couldn’t help yearning for more depth.
That isn’t likely to trouble many patrons, though, since Beehive is packed with songs, lively movement and even a little audience interactivity. For tickets call 366-9000 or go to floridastudiotheatre.org.