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BWW Review: BEEHIVE at Candlelight Music Theatre

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June 12 - July 18 A musical tribute to the '60's female icons

BWW Review: BEEHIVE at Candlelight Music Theatre

BWW Review: BEEHIVE at Candlelight Music Theatre

It is commendable that the staff of Candlelight Music Theatre has worked assiduously to keep their 'barn' relevant to Delaware's theatrical community. With out door events last summer in the parking lot, to doing yeoman work for any and all grants to keep their employees and to refit their building with the highest quality of environmental safeguards for their guests. Over the past three months ago they staged two indoor dramas. Last week they opened their first musical since March of 2020, BEEHIVE, the jukebox musical, featuring six multi-talented ladies. All of them provided their eager guests with food served by the wait staff.

Before Aisle Say chats about BEEHIVE, I wish to comment on how Delaware Theatre Company has navigated the pandemic. Last May they opened with a series of 12 one man shows OUTSIDE in the parking lot. This will continue through September. One would imagine that DTC has more resources than Candlelight. The latter, though, has a full schedule of musicals (inside) through December. DTC has their first inside production in September, although it is a one man show.

Note: musicals are way more expensive to mount and 'dinner theatre' has razor thin margins.

Here are some thoughts and what we learned about the self-aggrandizing, faux self-deprecating one-man production of Harry Hamlin - 'Icarus, the Sun and Limelight' that was staged in late May:

  1. As Perseus in the movie 'Clash of the Titans', Harry had a one-nighter with Ursula Andress which begat a son.
  2. He was People Mag's Sexiest Man of the Year in 1987.
  3. He was featured in the movie Making Love in the 1980's. He played a gay guy. Harry mentioned this short circuited his Hollywood career.
  4. He was offered the lead roles in Rambo and Greystroke - The Legend of Tarzan. (He said he turned both opportunities down).
  5. He followed his wife, Liza Renni (Housewives of Beverly Hills) on Dancing With the Stars, the platform for C list celebrities who aspire to more limelight.
  6. The workshop was co-written by Joshua Ravetch, the same gent who wrote DTC's production of the tortuous one-man Randy Gardner Story of a few years past. (Google him) The only highlight of that show was that his close friends, Tai Babilonia and Dorothy Hamill were in attendance to show their support.

Question #1: Who cares?

Question #2: How difficult is it to write a one man show? Just call the person up, have coffee 2-3 times, take some notes and bingo! So, if any of you dear readers want to have a one person show written, call me. We'll chat at Starbucks and eureka, a month later you'll have your show. Upfront fee. No refunds.

BEEHIVE

A juke box collection of hits from the 60's where pleasant memories were evoked from that less provocative era. The production was curated such that only 'girl groups' or female solo artists were featured. It was an ensemble of singers and dancers carefully cast by Director/Choreographer Jody Anderson. Probably the most difficult choices came with the those who would sing Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin, although it does take a special soul to get Janis Joplin right.

In the production numbers, Anderson generally mimicked the dance routines of these iconic groups that we all fondly remember: The Supremes; Tina Turner and the dancers from Shindig and Don Kirschner's Rock Concert. We were time-capsuled back to the Twist, Mashed Potatoes, the Monkey, the Frug and the very short lived Freddie!

Act 1 might be entitled 'pastel profusion'. The very period and very fun costumes by Moira Miller synched seamlessly with the multi-tiered set design by Jeff Reim and light design by Matthew Kator. Kator's use of gobos and choices of slides on the backstage screen perfectly exemplified the illustrations of Peter Max and various psychedelic images that everyone of a certain age recalls.

The show is about the hits that typified the time period. There is little dialogue but what there creates the line of demarcation from Motown and Lesley Gore and Connie Francis in Act 1 to the turbulence of Vietnam and the British Invasion in Act 2. This was insightful.

Each lady had their individual opportunity in the limelight.

Tiffany Dawn Christopher channeled the clarion notes of Diana Ross, most especially "You Can't Hurry Love". The unhappy dynamics between Diana and Florence Birdsong(?) were amusingly played out by Tiara Greene, attempting to upstage Tiffany. She, Phoebe Gavula and Kaylan Wetzel had the winning dance routine in the with Tiffany in the Tina Turner Medley that included 'Proud Mary'. (Those fringe dresses on the latter two women were perfect!)

Macy Champlin sang a beautiful "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow". Ah, recollections of Aldersgate Canteen in junior high. That tune was always 'ladies choice'.

Phoebe Gavula shone in two of Leslie Gore's hits, especially Act 2's call to sisterhood, "You Don't Own Me".

Tiara Greene's Aretha Franklin Medley was all glam and stratospheric high notes. "You Make Me Feel Like (A Natural Woman) is a difficult song to sing. No doubt Greene studied Aretha intently.

Aside from her stellar dancing, Kaylan Wetzel brought back one of the watershed moments in my misbegotten life. She rocked Grace Slick, the ultimate 60's sex siren. I saw Jefferson Airplane at Woodstock, along with a few other long hairs.

This brings us to Jenna Kuerzi's 3 tunes as Janis Joplin. Her costume was right out of her 1969 tv interview with Dick Cavett, 'so nice to see you, my little songbird', said Cavett. Janis came on that show carrying a bottle of gin. Jenna saw that as a cue and carried a similar prop. Kuerzi sang like the volatile vial of nitroglycerin that was Janis. In addition to impersonating all of Joplin's glass shattering screechy notes, she was hysterical in the portrayal.

Music Director Chris Tolomeo did a wonderful job melding these strong voices. The melodies in 'Abraham, Martin and John' were tear wrenching, owing to the story the song told. Clayton Stacey went Clayton Stacey on LSD with all the period wigs. In Act 2 with the beehives, we were blown away with Kaylan's Eiffel Towering fro.

Historical Note: Joplin, Hendrix and the 'Lizard King' Jim Morrison all died at age 27.

The food was fantastic. Candlelight continues to be the greatest theatre value in the region.

Photos by Tisa Delle-Volpe

Candlelight Theater Delaware (candlelighttheatredelaware.com)


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