Beehive Burns Down the Marriott Theatre

The theater critic in me is tempted to try to put the Beehive in some sort of context, to tell you about the relevance of the 1960s today. I could maybe toss in a sentence or two about Chicago theater in our cultural moment and the continued hot streak of musical reviews from Jersey Boys to MJ. That’s all true, I guess, but I would rather share my thoughts as I walked out of the Marriott Theater on opening night….

Holy shit, that was fun!  

Beehive is pure fun. 100% fun. Here’s my review in one sentence. Everyone who likes fun and wants moments of joy in their lives should go see Beehive.

For just over ninety minutes, six amazing performers and a killer six-piece band take the show to an eleven and never let up.

Created by Larry Gallagher and directed and choreographed by Deirdre Goodwin, Beehive is a beyond-high-energy, set-fire-to-the-theater, supercharged musical trip through the 1960s.

From Let’s Rock to Make Your Own Kind of Music, Beehive rips through thirty songs with hardly a moment for the performers or audience to catch their breath. Under Goodwin’s marvelous direction, the music and choreography are woven together to tell the story of a young woman growing up in the greatest musical decade in American history. 

After The Name Game covers the cast, the show bubble gum pops through sweet first-crush moments with hits like It’s My Party and Where Did Our Love Go? Then it flows through a series of solo and ensemble showcases with One Fine Day and Be My Baby, before slowing down to deal with the tumult and loss of the assassinations of President Kennedy and Dr. King and the tragedy of the Vietnam War with Abraham, Martin, and John, on the way to Woodstock and Women’s Liberation.  

Emma Grace Bailey, Grace Bobber, Lucy Godinez, Miciah Lathan, Leah Morrow, and Aisha Sougou come together and then take turns blowing the roof off the theater. As evidence of Goodwin’s excellent direction and the performers’ astounding talent, there are no weak performances in the ninety-minute, high-octane, sing-and-dance-a-thon musical review. Not a single moment falls flat. 

Morrow charms and delights as she narrates the coming-of-age 60s journey. With storytelling stops and musical interludes along the way, she breaks down love, hairstyles, fashion, and history.

There are too many wonderful moments in Beehive to mention in one review, but here are a few of the best.

Bailey brings pure joy to Where the Boys Are and Then He Kissed Me. 

Godinez gives us a soulful and gorgeous Son of a Preacher Man.

Lathan’s Chain of Fools, Never Loved a Man, and Natural Woman, more than do justice to the “Queen of Soul”.

Sougou’s bluesy rendition of Tina Turner’s hits River Deep-Mountain High and, of course, Proud Mary gives us two extra special show-stoppers in a show filled with plenty of show-stopping performances.   

And, put simply, Grace Bobber’s performance of Janis Joplin Me and Bobby McGee, Cry Baby and Try is jaw-dropping.

Cast and crew come together to make a show that looks great, sounds great, and feels great.  Amanda Vander Byl and Miguel A. Armstrong’s costumes and wigs are fabulous. Colette Pollard’s set design beautifully captures the vibrance of the decade and creates lovely moments shared by the performers and band together on stage.

Song after wonderful song, Beehive lifts and carries us on a trip through the magical music of the decade before it bursts into flames (in the best possible way) with a series of performances that showcase the talented musicians and performers, not to mention some of the greatest music in American history.

Here it is, one more time. Beehive is pure fun. 

Beehive is now playing at the Marriott Theater, 10 Marriott Dr, Lincolnshire, through August 11. Performance times vary; check the website at marriotttheatre.com. Find more information about current plays on our Current Shows page and at theatreinchicago.com.

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