Tacoma Musical Playhouse Description: Beehive is the ultimate celebration of 1960’s female empowerment. Featuring such timeless classics as “My Boyfriend’s Back”, “Be My Baby”, “Son of a Preacher Man”, and “Me and Bobby McGee”, Beehive nostalgically recalls the days of miniskirts, transistor radios and flower power. Told from the perspective of six young women who came of age in this enigmatic decade, these young ladies look back on a host of issues ranging from their first Beehive Dance to the challenges we faced as a nation – all accomplished by a vast array of the most celebrated and memorable songs of the era.
The revue was written by Larry Galagher, a New York booking agent. He died in 1988 at the age of 41, which means he would have lived through much of the sixties as a teenager. The audience at TMP would have fit that description as well. My wife Peg and I lived in that era, too. I take issue with TMP’s lead-in as “the ultimate celebration of 1960’s female empowerment.” Here we are sixty years later embroiled in senseless wars, female empowerment is a teaser with eroding women’s rights at the same time as civil rights decline in an un-civil climate of growing racial and religious hatred in the U.S. and globally. Perhaps, we need to re-visit flower power, protests, anti-war movements, and reassert goals that reach out to people rather than push them away.
The 60s musical presents approximately forty songs and includes two songs written for the original production. The first act sucks you in with fun and meaningless songs like The Name Game, It’s My Party, and Sweet Talking Guy, but delivers with Carole King’s Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, and One Fine Day.
At the intermission the audience was abuzz about the songs and the production. Peg and I stayed in our chairs. I lightly tapped my finger on the back of the seat in front of us. Peg looked at my finger and I motioned slightly upward. A man with a cane was leaning on the seat as he chatted with friends. A plastic, temporary hospital ID tag was around his wrist. I asked Peg, “Do you think they’ve missed him, yet?” Most of the productions at TMP are sold out, so if you have tickets you do your best to attend and enjoy.
The second act begins with the song Abraham, Martin and John (Lanita Hudson Walters as Wanda, and Brittany D. Henderson as Laura, Deshanna Brown as Jasmine, and Allyson Jacobs-Lake at Allison). It was written by Dick Holler and first recorded by Dion of Dion and the Belmonts. It is a tribute to four assassinated Americans, all icons of social change: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy.
Peg considers this song the beginning of her social consciousness with the serious nature of conflict, prejudice and religious intolerance, and the end of innocent naivety. Peg was living on a NATO base (her father was in the USAF) in Germany when JFK was killed. She was at home when a neighbor boy came over and told their family of the assassination. At first she didn’t believe it. “It couldn’t be true! This doesn’t happen in America!” At school students voiced outrage, despair, and betrayal of hope. It was the beginning of personal awareness of the evil in the world.
I was a senior in my homeroom class at Clover Park. Everyone in the audience probably had similar stories and recollections.
The musical didn’t dwell on the subject, but quickly on away. The second part of the second act was the payoff. Kataka “Kat” Corn as Gina with Ashley Koon as Pattie, Deshanna Brown as Jasmine, Lanita Hudson Walters as Wanda, and Brittany D. Henderson as Laura hit overdrive with performances of Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin.
The price of admission was repaid many times over. My mouth is still hanging open. What a display of talent and joy.
Next to closing was Laura singing Me and Bobby McGee. The entire audience joined in. Wow.
Credit is due for Beth Rainey (Musical Director) and Angela K. Morgan (Stage Manager) as well as the six piece Tacoma Musical Playhouse Band (Musical Director/Piano Beth Rainey, Tenor/Baritone Sax Alex Worland, Trumpet John Stava, Electric Guitar Tim Nordstrom, Electric Bass Jacqui Sandro, and Drums Iris McBride. The entire production also owes its success to Harry Turpin – Director and Choreographer.
There were happy faces everywhere. People lined up in the lobby to talk with the six talented Beehive actresses/singers/dancers. The production runs through February 16th.