IF YOU GO
What: Revue with 40 top hits from the women of the decade
When: 8 p.m. today, Saturday and Thursday through May 14; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday and May 15.
Where: G&L Theatre on the campus of Community School of Naples, 13275 Livingston Road, Naples
Information: 888-966-3352 or theatrezone-florida.com
On the Web: Sign up to receive more theater news from the Stage Door blog via email.
NAPLES — TheatreZone grabs the wigs, some Aqua Net and a heaping helping of girl group songs to close their season. "Beehive: The '60s Musical," led by former "American Idol" contestant Paige Miles, pumps out lots of "ooh-la-las," "sha-na-nas," big voices, even bigger hair and plenty of fun.
The show tiptoes through the tulips and tunes of the flower child decade - wandering from The Chiffons ("One Fine Day") to Lesley Gore ("It's My Party") and LuLu ("To Sir With Love"). Iconic tunes from Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Dusty Springfield and The Supremes appear too.
Director Mark Danni, a musician himself, clearly loves the material. The affection shows when his six-girl cast nails adoring recreations of The Angels' hit "My Boyfriend's Back" or brings roars as they introduce themselves with the nonsense syllables of "The Name Game." Audience members, if you remember how to "banana-fana fo-fana," you can volunteer for a turn in the spotlight.
Danni disciple and Community School grad Paige Miles, late of "American Idol," returns to Naples to star in the show. Miles does a creditable job leading the night, although her stage presence and voice seems subdued at times. Her solid solos include Tina Turner hits "River Deep, Mountain High" and "Proud Mary," as well as soaring Aretha Franklin anthem "Natural Woman." Miles also introduced her new single "Lucky" on opening night.
The five singers supporting Miles get their own moments in the sun - and some shine bright indeed. An ever-grinning Courtney Whittamore (complete with sunglasses) blasts through a growling, thrashing trio Janis Joplin hits: "Try," "Me and Bobby McGee" and "Ball and Chain."
Girl group tributes bring applause again and again. A brilliant Shirelles and Shangri-Las set, led by Nicole Corris with Whittamore and Megan Yelaney singing backup, lands as one of the night's best moments. Cherry Hamlin nails the Supremes hit "Where Did Our Love Go" and later battles Miles on Aretha's "Do Right Woman," another highlight. Christina Alexander scores with early Patti Labelle hit "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman."
Some of the tributes don't always compare favorably - usually when the show tries to replace a singular, iconic voice. Petula Clark's moving "Downtown" becomes an upbeat group number that loses the intent of the song. Nor does Dusty Springfield's "Wishin' and Hopin'" come off well. Still, those are minor blips in a fun, frothy and lively evening - much of the crowd was either singing along or swaying in their seats through much of the night.
A rainbow of costumes from Kathleen Kolacz runs the gamut from demure pastels of the early '60s to the fringe and sequins of the sexy rock 'n roll mamas. Flower children get gorgeous green graphic prints while the British invasion comes complete with mod space age frocks, white go-go boots and sparkling headbands. Shari Brousseau and Peter Galluzzo wrangle the towering tresses used in the show.
Karen Molnar's effortless choreography captures in a few delicate steps the simpler, less troubled times of the decade. From the gently waving hands of the girl group period to the fast and furious head tossing of Tina Turner, the show speeds along. Charles Fornara's six-piece orchestra pumps out the sound through the night - and even changes costumes at intermission.
At its heart, "Beehive" celebrates the music of the decade and offers a simple, uncomplicated and escapist night of entertainment. If not thrilling in a roller-coaster sense - the show is fun to watch, fun to see and hear and a definite delight.
My favorite song from the show was "Make Your Own Kind of Music," from Mama Cass. What's your favorite 1960s song? Email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, find me on Twitter at @napleschris or read my Stage Door theater blog. You can also sign up to receive the Stage Door blog via email.