|Arielle Crosby (center) portrays Tina Turner with Constance Jewell Lopez (left) and Erica Richardson.|
The 1960s were an era of profound change in the United States, especially after the relatively serene Eisenhower years.
Some of these changes are musically captured in “Beehive,” a jukebox musical created by Larry Gallagher and presented by Center REPertory Company.
The story is loosely woven around six multi-talented women who take the audience on a chronological journey from when Wanda (Erica Richardson) was in ninth grade through her early years after college.
|Elizabeth Curtis as Janis Joplin.|
Musically the journey progresses from girl groups of the early ’60s through Woodstock in 1969 and artists like the Shirelles, Aretha Franklin (portrayed by Constance Jewell Lopez) and Tina Turner (a show-stopping performance by Arielle Crosby), the Supremes and Janis Joplin (another show-stopping performance, this one by Elizabeth Curtis).
Some of the highlights include “It’s My Party,” “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and “One Fine Day.”
Others include “You Don’t Own Me,” “Proud Mary” and “Me and Bobby McGee.”
Seminal events included the assassinations of President John Kennedy, Sen. Robert Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Then there were Vietnam, peace marches and dances like the twist, mashed potato and frug, and, of course, the Beatles.
Styles changed from full-skirted dresses to miniskirts, big hair, go-go boots, tie-dye shirts and bell bottoms.
All of this is encapsulated by the ensemble cast. Besides Richardson, Lopez, Crosby and Curtis, the cast features Monique Hafen Adams and Ashley Cowl.
They’re skillfully directed and choreographed by Dawn Monique Williams.
The flexible set, with the band seated on an upstage platform, is by Kelly James Tighe with lighting by Sim Carpenter. Period costumes are by Loran Watkins. The over-amplified sound is by Lyle Barrere. Musical direction is by Eryn Allen.
One drawback to enjoying this production is that no printed programs are available with artist credits and song lists. There’s a code to scan with a smart phone, but those without smart phones are out of luck. This is a disservice to the artists and the audience.
Otherwise, it’s a high-energy, highly enjoyable trip down memory lane for those of a certain age and an eye-opener for the younger set.
Running about 90 minutes without intermission, “Beehive” will continue through June 26 at the Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek.
For tickets and information call (925) 943-7469 or visit www.CenterRep.org.
Photos by Kevin Berne