Whoa. Double flashback.
“Beehive,” a revue of female-vocalist pop hits from the 1960s, hit me with two shots of time warp while proving it has improved with age.
If you’re a certain age, like me, the songs take you back to younger, simpler days, when every radio blared them and every school dance spun them.
But the show also celebrates the 20th anniversary of “Beehive’s” original staging at the Howard Street Tavern in the Old Market, and I remember that vividly as well. The atmosphere of Benson’s Waiting Room Lounge, where this is being revived, isn’t far removed from the original venue.
Best of all, four of the 1992 cast members from that record-setting 10-month run are back: Ginny Sheehan Hermann, Sue Gillespie Booton, Tiffany White-Welchen and Kathy Tyree. They’re joined by Jean Peterson and Donna Ball, who sang with them in a 1996 revival of “Beehive.”
Gordon Cantiello directed all three versions, and he knows how to throw a fun party— and how to get the most out of a song and a singer.
And these “girls” — well, let’s just say they haven’t lost a thing over the last 20 years when it comes to belting out the hits with style, humor, great storytelling and more than a little role-playing.
Booton still does a terrific Janis Joplin, even if I did wish for a few more bars of “Piece of My Heart.” The raspy inflection on “Me and Bobby McGee” was vintage Joplin, and so was the body language.
Peterson brought back a movie memory with her silky-smooth delivery of Lulu’s “To Sir With Love.”
Hermann sounded just like Lesley Gore on “You Don’t Own Me,” just like Dusty Springfield on “Wishin’ and Hopin’,” and the backup vocals were great too.
Ball shines brightest on her Diana Ross medley, including “Where Did Our Love Go,” though she’s also mighty fine on the Chiffons’ “One Fine Day.”
White-Welchen brought down the house with her rockin’ version of “Proud Mary,” including her lead-in narration in full Tina Turner mode.
And Tyree also whipped the crowd into a frenzy on “Respect,” giving Aretha Franklin a run for her money.
Booton’s choreography, costumes by Jenny Pool and Rob Lohman, and a killer seven-piece band led by Kevin Smith on keyboards add a whole lot to the fun.
“Beehive” had the packed house buzzing last Saturday, just as it did in 1992. A nearly sold-out run finishes Sunday with three shows, back to back.
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