by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
Players by the Sea started 2014 by staging a trip back in time with “Beehive,” a musical revue of the music of the 1960’s and the launching of “girl groups.” The title refers to the domed lacquered hairstyle of the era, a style forgotten in today’s fashion world.
Do The Angels, The Chiffons, The Shangri-Las or The Supremes ring a bell in your vault of musical knowledge? How about names like Patti LaBelle, Lesley Gore, Brenda Lee, Petula Clark and Tina Turner? Got you humming?
If you remember even a few of those names, this will indeed be a trip down memory lane for you. Even if your favorite era wasn’t the sixties, you will love this show because of the ten talented ladies in the cast. Each of these ladies could do a one-woman show – alone on-stage for two hours – and captivate the entire audience.
The amazing RON SHREVE as Director / Choreographer (and also Costume Designer and Set Designer) had such a good turnout for the auditions that he decided to use a cast of ten rather than the usual six seen in most productions.
RICKY ALESSI is the Musical Director and plays the piano assisted by the talented musicians MISHA FRAYMAN (Guitar), CODY WHEATON (Bass), JONATHAN WARD (Horn) and GREG HERSEY (Percussion).
The show presented so many of our favorites, and some of our favorites included Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party” with KRYSTAL WHITE, Dusty Springfield’s “Wishin’ and Hopin‘” with MEGAN GEORGEO, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” featuring MEGAN HURST, “Me and Bobby McGee” with SADIE LAMANNA, “Where The Boys Are,” sung by JENNIFER JOHNSTON, “The Beehive Dance” with the lead by AUDREY MOBLEY, “Judy’s Turn to Cry” sung by ASHLEY AUGUSTYNIAK, and “To Sir With Love” with JOCELYLN GERONIMO, who is also Co-Choreographer for the production.
These are only a few of the 38 songs, that starting in 1960, reflect the influence of Motown and the British pop invasion on the American music scene. The two absolute favorites on opening night, with us, as well as audience members who reacted vocally and with loud applause, were: LESLIE RICHART with “I’m Sorry,” “You Don’t Own Me,” and “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” and KERRI ALEXANDER who sang “A Natural Woman,” “Do Right Woman,” and “Respect.” These two ladies demonstrated an astonishing vocal range, and we’re hoping that someday we will have the opportunity to see them performing with the Jacksonville Symphony and the Alhambra Theatre.
Director Shreve with the help of Production Stage Manager BRADLEY AKERS created a dazzling night club setting with the stage flooring designed as a vinyl LP phonograph record.
Players’ “Beehive” is an astounding fashion show of the 1960, with endlessly amusing costumes and so many costume changes that we lost count. We were very busy keeping track of who was singing what. While several songs were solos, the majority were performed with a lead singer and two, three, or more backup singers and dancers performing the creative and dazzling choreographed numbers. The Costume Mistresses ASH HEFFERNAN, KENADI DELACERNA , LIVIA WILSON and Stage Manager ELIZABETH REEGER, deserve a prolonged round of applause for keeping track of all that clothing backstage and handling the changes so swiftly.
Over all, this measured up to previous productions we have seen of the same show, although we would have liked to have seen a few greatly exaggerated Beehive hairdos on some of the cast as we have in the past. A couple of times the band overpowered some of the songs, but the ladies had a wide range of vocal prowess, and adjusting to each may have been difficult.
You can experience the 60’s, or relive them, depending on your age. In 1960, the average salary was $4,743 a year and the minimum wage was $1 an hour. If you are not familiar with this period, be sure to get to the theatre half an hour early, so you can read the program with its very interesting notes on this period and the performers by Dramaturg HOLLLY GUTSHALL. The program by the way, has the most extensive biographies of the cast and crew that we have ever seen in any theatre.
All performances are at Players by the Sea Theatre, 106 Sixth Street North, Jacksonville Beach. Visit their website at playersbythesea.org or call for information and reservations at (904) 249-0289.The show will run through February 8; the performance on February 1 will be a benefit for Player’s School of the Arts.
BEEEHIVE-THE 60's MUSICAL
by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM