If you haven’t overdosed on the abundance of tributes to 1960s hits and the women who sang them, the Manatee Players provides another opportunity to bask in a nostalgic glow with “Beehive.”
Larry Gallagher’s musical revue is a lively and generally fun collection of songs that reveal changing attitudes, musical styles and fashion over a tumultuous decade.
Directed and choreographed by Kyle Turoff in the intimate Kiwanis Studio Theatre, the show moves chronologically through the 1960s, beginning with the bubble gum playfulness and romantic yearnings of “The Name Game,” “One Fine Day” and “Sweet Talkin’ Guy.” By the end, after civil unrest and political divide, the music gains an edge with Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” and the power and statement of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”
It’s all familiar and easy to digest, and performed by an enthusiastic cast of six women, backed by a three-piece band led by musical director Berry Ayers.
Gallagher’s show intersperses supposed personal memories of the cast members (who are generally too young to recall the times) of events from school dances to anti-war protests.
Syreeta Banks provides a powerful voice and a special sparkle of personality when she’s telling stories and particularly when she’s singing.
Her voice brings a flair to Patti LaBelle’s hits “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman,” and rousing versions of Tina Turner’s “A Fool in Love” and “Proud Mary” (complete with non-stop dancing).
Alana Opie can play it sweet and innocent singing “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” or recalling Petula Clark with “Downtown,” but she also hits the grit in four Joplin hits.
The cast is adaptable as the performers touch on a wide range of styles, both in solos and back-up routines. They also constantly change Georgina Willmott’s colorfully evocative (if occasionally ill-fitting) costumes that reveal how styles changed.
Briana Lutzi has fun playing Annette Funicello singing “I Dream About Frankie.” Ariel Blue has a vivacious personality, if not the most consistent vocal quality as she leads a Supremes medley as Diana Ross and also has a turn as Tina Turner.
Noelia Altamirano does well as Brenda Lee singing “I’m Sorry,” Lulu’s hit “To Sir With Love” and even Franklin’s “Natural Woman.” Helen Holiday recalls the Shangri-Las with “Remember (Walking in the Sand),” Lesley Gore’s hit “It’s My Party” and offers a sense of the female British invasion with a couple of Dusty Springfield hits.
Ayers and his two fellow musicians provide strong musical backing, keeping the music light enough to allow the voices to emerge. The theater is still working out kinks in the sound system, which can sound tinny and distant at times, even in such a small space.
After a host of similar revues focusing on the same period (“Shout,” “Marvelous Wonderettes,” “the Prima Donnettes”), “Beehive” may be less distinct than it once was, but the cast does its part to celebrate a memorable musical era.
Created by Larry Gallagher. Directed and choreographed by Kyle Turoff. Reviewed Feb. 27, Manatee Players Kiwanis Studio Theatre, 502 3rd Ave., West, Bradenton. Through March 16. Tickets are $26, $15 for teachers, $13 for students. 748-5875; manateeplayers.com