'Beehive' a fun, musical journey through the 60s

Matt Roche • Updated May 11, 2018 at 8:12 PM

CLEVELAND — Janis Joplin taking a sip of Southern Comfort whiskey from a flask before singing “Me and Bobby McGee” in her raw, powerful and uninhibited style.

Tina Turner strutting on stage and then belting out one of her most recognizable signature songs, “Proud Mary.”

Grace Slick, with her distinctive vocal style, singing “Somebody to Love” while displaying her striking, if not provocative, stage presence.

These are some of the iconic images from the 60s brought to life in the “Beehive — the 60s Musical,” a Great Lakes Theater production now on stage at Playhouse Square’s Hanna Theatre through May 20.

In “Beehive,” six young women take the audience through the 1960s, mostly through song with a little storytelling. 

They start in 1960, singing fun girl-group songs such as “The Name Game” and “It’s My Party,” and finish with end-of-the-decade tunes from the likes of Turner, Slick and Joplin.

These six women — Adrianna Cleveland, Annalise Griswold, Shelby Griswold, Christiana Perrault, Camille Robinson and Hannah-Jo Weisberg — are very talented singers and performers, able to capture the essence of the individuals and groups (i.e. The Chiffons, The Shirelles, The Supremes) being portrayed.

Each proves worthy of her role as a lead singer and they harmonize well during the show, which lasts one hour and 25 minutes (including a 15-minute intermission).

The varied and ever-changing clothing and hair styles — including the musical’s namesake — are displayed as the journey progresses.

The order of the musical’s 40 songs — mostly well-known hits still heard today — is purposeful. The first ones reflect the innocence of the decade’s beginning. Then there are songs related to the unrest marking that era. The concluding tunes involve women’s empowerment.

A somewhat older audience filled the Hanna Theater on opening night. The experience of living in the 1960s, however, is not a requirement to enjoy “Beehive.” 

My wife and I are in our 40s, and we knew most of the songs, easily recognized many of the clothing styles (long skirts to hippie attire) and liked the portrayals of those 60s performers. The songs were mostly upbeat and happy, though there were a few serious moments — including the performance of “Abraham, Martin and John.”

Created by Larry Gallagher and directed by Victoria Bussert, “Beehive” is a show that should entertain people of all ages and leave them feeling happy as they exit the theater. 

Tickets, which range in price from $15 to $80, can be purchased by phone at 216-241-6000, online at www.playhousesquare.org or in person at the PlayhouseSquare Ticket Office.

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