Beehive: a) a structure housing a colony of bees; b) a hairstyle for women, popular around 1960, in which the hair is arranged in a high rounded shape on top of the head; c) a fabulous musical revue featuring the greatest hits of the top girl singers and girl groups of the swingin’, turbulent 1960s.


It’s a combination of b) and c)—with an emphasis on the latter—that now takes center stage in Civic Light Opera Of South Bay Cities’ sensational production of Beehive. Directed and choreographed by Dan Mojica with high energy, imagination, and pizzazz, Beehive’s sextet of triple-threats (Misty Cotton, Karole Foreman, Stacy Francis, Tricia Kelly, Kamilah Marshall, and Kelli Provart) burn up the stage as some of The Sixties’ most memorable girl acts: The Angels, The Chiffons, Patti LaBelle And The Bluebells, the Shirelles, the Shangri-Las, the Supremes, Lesley Gore, Brenda Lee, Annette Funicello, Connie Francis, Petula Clark, Lulu, and Dusty Springfield—and that’s just Act One.

As for Act Two, anyone who knows The Sixties knows that round about 1967 things started to change, darken, and get serious, with the Vietnam War, a series of political assassinations, and the women’s liberation movement taking center stage. Beehive’s second act reflects that national mood shift with extended Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, and Janis Joplin medleys, and a touch of teenaged Janis Ian thrown as a comment on changing race relations.


Performances at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center simply could not be better, each songstress bringing her own style and forté to the proceedings. For the most part, there’s little imitation of the originals’ vocal signatures, with the exception of Kelly’s spot-on tributes to Brenda Lee and Janis Joplin (close your eyes and its their unique song stylings you hear). What there is is some of the most powerful singing you’re likely to hear until—well until these six superb performers are reunited on the same stage again someday. (Beehive 2 anyone?)

For the record, here’s a partial list of who gets to be who: Cotton stands in for Lesley and Petula, Foreman is Annette, Francis becomes Diana and Aretha, Kelly is Brenda, Lulu, and Janis J., Kamilah gets to be Patti and Tina, and Provart morphs into Dusty and Janis I. As for the songs you’ll be hearing, they range from early ‘60s smashes like “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “One Fine Day,” to mid-‘60s chart-toppers like “Where Did Our Love Go” and “Downtown,” to late-60s hits like “Respect” and “Piece Of My Heart.” In Act Two, it’s the fabulous Francis, Kelly, and Marshall who get the big medleys to sing, but when you add it all up, the equally awesome Cotton, Foreman, and Provart get about the same number of lead vocals—which all six perform to perfection. In addition, Foreman pretends to be a 60something Karole and “remember” the 1960s in a narration which creates a historical setting and strings the songs together.

Musical director Alby Potts, terrific as always, leads the eight-piece onstage band. Christopher Beyries’ set has the bubblegum-hued look of The Sixties, lit with Las Vegas flair by the ever astounding Jared A. Sayeg. Christa Armendariz’s colorful costumes reflect the changing styles of a decade. John Feinstein’s sound design makes voices and instruments crystal clear. John W. Calder III is production stage manager.

If ever there was a show for all ages, it’s Beehive. After all, those 20something ‘60s stars are now in their sixties and even their seventies (Lulu=61, Lesley Gore=64, Brenda Lee=65, Diana Ross=66, Aretha Franklin=68, Tina Turner=70, Connie Francis=71, Petula Clark=77), making this a show that even Grandma and Grandpa aren’t too old for, and as for the music, well it’s still being covered by singers scarcely out of their teens. In short, whether you’re 18 or 80 or anywhere in between, “Grease” is no longer the word. It’s “BEEHIVE!”

CLO of South Bay Cities, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Redondo Beach.
–Steven Stanley
September 21, 2010
Photos: Alyssa Brennan

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