The Mac-Haydn Theatre, Chatham, NY
Beehive: the 60s Musical
Created by Larry Gallagher
Directed and Choreographed by Bryan Knowlton. Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman.
" Will you still love me tomorrow?"
Technical glitches abound at the opening night performance of the Mac-Haydn's production of Beehive: the 60s Musical. Sound designer/operator Whitaker Gardner never got the sound board in gear; as a result almost nothing could be heard from the singers during the entire first act. It's a long act with twenty numbers (21 songs) wonderfully performed by the six superb singers who make up the cast. Director/choreographer Bryan Knowlton keeps his cast almost always on the move, dancing up a storm, gesturing in purely 1960s fashion, changing costumes, changing wigs. He makes certain that there is always something to watch and admire. It's exhausting especially if you have to strain to hear more than a few syllables throughout this over an hour, non-stop presentation. The girls worked so very hard, getting everything right but receiving no aid in the vocal department. It was sham reality for it looked like their work was wonderful.. Hopefully the glitch will be righted and the subsequent performance will all be perfect. That would be a relief and it would be in the Mac-Haydn mode.
As it is hard to praise singers you cannot hear let me tell you their names:Ashley DeLane Burger, Angle Colonna, Maya Cuevas, Julia Hajjer, Klara Hines, Mia Sempertegul. Each has a character name, but those names bear little relation to the original singers of these songs. these 1960s teens flaunt their daring outfits, sing their favorite songs and emulate the singers they do not imitate, as far as I know (Again, no sound leaves only supposition.) All six are attractive dancers which is an immense aid to enjoying the show.
The company finale; Photo: Ann Kielbasa.
Maya CuevaS as Jasmine: Photo: Ann Kielbasa
Using the same set as the show it plays with in repertoire each weekend, The World Goes Round, designed by Kevin Gleason, it plays on a nightclub dancefloor in front of a traditional bandstand. Andrew Gmoser's lighting design is so very appropriate, never distracting from the intricate combinations Knowlton has conceived. The costumes are character defining and often exquisite in Tiffany Howard's splendid work. The entire production, in short, works beautifully as it presents, and represents, the 60's America that is defined by the songs.
Ashley DeLane Burger as Patty; Photo: Ann Loe;basa
Sadly I am left wondering how much more I would have enjoyed this show had I heard it and not just watched it. Songs like The Name Game, Where the Boys Are, You Don't Own Me and To Sir With Love truly define the decade they're from and they tell a story that could be the subtle center of the piece, but I don't remember all the lyrics and without them to hear I really don't know if there is a book of any sort, even implied here. The second act also started quietly, but sound was sneaked in. I could hear the show with its 1968 Woodstock setting. I was there in the rain and mud for not quite three days and remember well how Janis Joplin and others emerged through their music. The second act attempts that and does very well what is needed but I honestly don't know what led to it or why. Angle Colonna takes center stage for this brief act and dominates it perfectly.
Klara Hines as Gina, Ashley DeLane Burger as Paty, Julia Hejjer a Alison; Photo: Ann Kielbasa
How I would love to recommend this show. What I know of it, what its on-stage talent shows me is perfect collaboration among performing artists, but I don't know how it sounds so it is with a difficult set of reservations I encourage you to consider what you'll do. Is the dancing enough to tempt you. I loved it. Will the microphones be set aright? I would hope so and I believe so but cannot guarantee it. The show needs its vocals. The band, led by Dave Maglione plays just right. They also played perfectly for the other show so chances are they will do just fine. What I hate saying is this beehive may hold stingers or the sweetest honey of the mid-twentieth century. Go if you want to, but don't say I didn't warn you.
+ 09/11/2021 +
Beehive plays through the end of the month at the Mac-Haydn Theatre, 1925 Route 203 in Chatham, NY. For information and tickets call the box office at 518-394-9494 or go their website: www.machaydntheatre.org