Beehive: The 60s Musical at the MKE Rep

If you are considering seeing Beehive, “STOP, In The Name Of LOVE”, and buy your tickets right now. This is a fun show…and if you know the lyrics to any of these songs you will be singing along. But I took a bit of license here with my opening sentence. “Stop In The Name Of Love” isn’t actually one of the numbers performed in this review but I urge the creator and director to correct that oversight post haste…I had worked out the choreography for it from an old Supremes video!

Photo by Michael Brosilow and courtesy of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater

So what do we have here? We have an ensemble of six singers/dancers enthusiastically entertaining us with thirty-four songs that represent the best memories of female music stars from the 1960s! And everyone of the women featured here take their turn as the soloist with any number of their peers providing the backing vocals and harmonies…so the music just keeps moving forward and the energy never flags as the hits keep on coming!

Photo by Michael Brosilow and courtesy of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater

So: the songs here represent the most talented and most popular ‘girl groups’ and solo artists of the period. Starting with the silly Shirley Ellis hit, “The Name Game” then rolling into Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party”, we also are reliving the thrills we got back in the day from the Supremes, The Ronettes, The Chiffons, The Angels, The Crystals, and more…and I loved everyone of them.

Photo by Michael Brosilow and courtesy of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater

And for those of you who followed certain songwriters, these hits also represent some of the best output from Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Jeff Berry and Ellie Greenwich, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Phil Spector, and the Motown triple threat, Holland, Dozier, and Holland!

Photo by Michael Brosilow and courtesy of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater

But despite being titled Beehive, this isn’t limited to ‘girl groups’ with piled up hair. Near the end of the first act, creator Larry Gallagher signals the later 60s shift in pop music and pop culture with the iconic anthem, “You Don’t Own Me” by a revitalized Lesley Gore. From then on we feel the effects of the British Invasion and the renewed influence of blues on rock and roll…and the rise of the big voiced big presence female vocalists…Tina Turner, Grace Slick, and of course, Janis Joplin.

Photo by Michael Brosilow and courtesy of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Sarah Lynn Marion as Janis

So this is an incredible experience in music and music history for those of us who lived it but even if you don’t know every song and every lyric, this is a lot…and I repeat…a lot of fun!

The only regret I have is the cast didn’t have time to perform the entire song because they nailed the performances and feel of the original material in a very dramatic fashion. But if they’d done that, it would be a five hour show instead of two hours and fifteen minutes.

The cast really did an amazing job of bringing these songs to life. The cast: Jackey Boelkow, Tess Marshall, Sarah Lynn Marion, Jamie Mercado, Desiree Tolodziecki, and Amaya White. They switched roles so many times, that I can’t tell you which actor took on which singer…so watch closely and carefully…but absolutely, no one disappointed. And director Laura Braza did an outstanding job in keeping everyone in motion and upfront and singing! And to choreographer, David P. Roman, hats off to you, beehive and all!!

Extra Credit Reading: Beehive The Program

Beehive, The 60s Musical runs through January 15, 2023, at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s Stackner Cabaret. And I recommend making reservations for dinner at the Cabaret before the show as well.

More info and tickets here:

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