Long before Tony nominee Adrienne Warren donned Tina Turner’s fringe mini on Broadway or Jennifer Hudson channeled the Queen of Soul on film, Larry Gallagher created a show that paid homage to many of the female artists of the 1960s.
These were the women who empowered a generation to break free from gender norms and speak truth to power. Theirs were a battle cry for freedom often romanticized through a purple haze.
But after the year that’s been, perhaps a bit of restorative nostalgia is just what audiences need, which may be one of the reasons why Raleigh Little Theatre’s synergistic production of Beehive works.
From Elizabeth Newton’s retro diner set, to Jenny Mitchell’s transitional skirts and wigs, this Beehive is a fine example of how the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. And the vibe here at the Stephenson Amphitheatre, evident before the first note is ever sung, is a true testament to Director Lormarev Jones’ evenhandedness and instinct.
Jones, along with Music Director Mary Kathryn Walston, draws out some strong performances from an ensemble of charismatic, powerhouse women. Smartly, the team leans in to the essence and meaning behind each heart song without gambling too much on mimicry or impersonation. That is where shows like this can go from fun to hokey in a snap.
But this show strings together the songs through the lens of the everywoman, those who lived, loved, and lost during a tumultuous time. And this production, capitalizes on that relatability, which in turn jogs a collective memory that feels as cool and rejuvenating as a Tom Collins on warm summer night.
The Raleigh Little Theatre production of Beehive runs through September 3. For ticket information visit https://raleighlittletheatre.org/.
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