Friday, February 20, 2009

Maltz Jupiter Theatre: Beehive [3 reviews]

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre presents Beehive, a revue of 60's girl bands, through February 22.

Kevin D. Thompson has the first review in the Palm Beach Post.

The six brave stars of Beehive, the toe-tapping, feel-good musical revue playing at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, do their best to make you believe you're watching a booze-swilling Joplin at Woodstock or the leggy Turner crooning Proud Mary or Franklin demanding she get Respect, but unfortunately they don't quite measure up all the time.

Let's face it: No one really could.

This seems to be a recurring dilemma for "juke box" musicals, a genre that takes the catalogues of successful artists and reconstitutes them as a Broadway show; people remember the original recordings all too well

Now, that doesn't mean you won't have a great time... Beehive is still a groovy musical that should have you dancing in the aisles, or, at the very least, tapping your feet as you slide back in time to arguably the most influential period in American music history.

The show's stars - Bridget Beirne, Felicia Boswell, Lisa Estridge, Autumn Hurlbert, Noel Molinelli and Anstacia McCleskey - work harder than six James Browns on stage and have a wonderfully infectious chemistry. All of them look like they're having a blast thanks to Mark Martino's zippy direction and choreography.

Hap Erstein reviewed the show for Palm Beach ArtsPaper. And Hap says you don't have to be a Baby Boomer to appreciate the show:

As a matter of fact, too much awareness of this music and its originating performers might be a drawback at the Maltz. Much of Beehive depends on visual and aural impersonation of the likes of Diana Ross, Connie Francis, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner and Janis Joplin, skills that the talented six-woman cast falls short of possessing.

This is what Kevin Thompson found, too; while the performances as performances stand up, there is less success when they try to emulate iconic rock stars.

The penultimate spot goes to the whiskey-soaked sounds of Joplin, though Bridget Beirne provides a wan replica of the tiny Texas rocker. Lisa Estridge earns a bit more respect for her Aretha and Stacy McCleskey rolls on the river with Turner, but floats into caricature.

Director-choreographer Mark Martino (who elevated last season’s The Boy Friend) knows his ’60s dances, but frantic frugs, watusis and swims are a weak anchor to an evening. Projection designer David Esler supplies some eye-catching effects and costumer Jose M. Rivera has fun winking at the fashions of the era.

The johnny-come-lately theatre blog, Five Minutes to Curtain, gets their review in just under the wire:

When people think of 60’s musicals nowadays, Hairspray is the first that comes to mind, but now, thanks to the Maltz Theatre in Jupiter, FL, Beehive is the word.

The one act that always comes to mind about strong women was Tina Turner and Stacy, played by Anastacia McCleskey did an amazing job portraying such a powerful woman. I can easily see why this scene was Artistic Director, Andrew Kato’s favorite scene.
Really? I mean, I don't doubt that, but it would be nice to know how the nameless reviewer discovered that.

Despite some transient sound issue, 5mins gave kudos to the design team:
Special recognition belong to Tom Frey for his musical directing, Dan Kuchar for his amazing and beautiful scenic design and to Jose M. Rivera for his over 40 wigs and 50 costume changes that were used in this production of a very educational revue.

More reviews will be added to this posting as they become available. Please, feel free to add your comments below.

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