Marriott Theatre’s ‘Beehive’ an ideal show for summer

“Beehive: The 60’s Musical” — 3 stars

Nostalgia never goes out of style. For confirmation, look no further than “Beehive: The 1960’s Musical,” a peppy jukebox tuner running through Aug. 11 at Marriott Theatre.

On opening night, enthusiastic theatergoers tapped their feet, swayed and sang along as an all-female cast (accompanied by an all-female onstage band) performed chart-topping tunes by The Supremes, Dusty Springfield, Leslie Gore, The Chiffons and others. Given the opportunity, I imagine some audience members — particularly those first-wave Baby Boomers — would have happily danced in the aisles.

Created by booking agent Larry Gallagher in 1986, this 90-minute confection is ideal for summer: frothy, familiar and featherlight.

Director/choreographer Deidre Goodwin’s likable cast includes Emma Grace Bailey, Grace Bobber, Lucy Godinez, Miciah Lathan, Aisha Sougou and Leah Morrow, who twist, jerk and Watusi their way through such hits as “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “One Fine Day.” The affable Morrow serves as narrator, highlighting the decade’s social, cultural and political milestones and occasionally bantering with the audience.

The actors share Collette Pollard’s candy-colored, boldly geometric set with The Honey Jackets, consisting of conductor/keyboardist Celia Villacres, saxophonist Karli Bunn, trumpeter Kellin Hanas, bassist Lauren Pierce, drummer Camila Mennitte and guitarist Stephanie Chow (Arial Glassman takes over July 2).

Lucy Godinez, downstage center, takes the lead on "My Boyfriend's Back," one of the 1960s chart-toppers featured in "Beehive: The 60’s Musical" running through Aug. 11 at Marriott Theatre. The cast also includes Aisha Sougou, left, Emma Grace Bailey, Miciah Lathan, Leah Morrow and Grace Bobber. Courtesy of Liz Lauren

“Beehive” is — for the most part — pleasantly pedestrian. Things picked up about midway through the show beginning with the delightful “Beehive Dance,” which was followed by the poignant “Abraham, Martin and John” and a scorching version of “Son of a Preacher Man” from the charismatic Godinez.

Aisha Sougou channels Tina Turner in Marriott Theatre's "Beehive: The 60’s Musical" directed and choreographed by Deidre Goodwin. Courtesy of Liz Lauren

But “Beehive” really began to buzz near the end when Sougou, in a bravura turn as Tina Turner, and Lathan, in full-on diva mode as Aretha Franklin, delivered back-to-back showstoppers.

Resplendent in white, Sougou — backed by Ikettes Bailey and Morrow — shimmied, shook and brought the house down with her performance of “River Deep, Mountain High” and “Proud Mary.”

The Aretha Franklin medley, featuring Miciah Lathan, right, as the Queen of Soul and Grace Bobber, left, and Lucy Godinez as her backup singers, was among the highlights of Marriott Theatre's "Beehive: The 60’s Musical." Courtesy of Liz Lauren

Lathan’s shimmering, soulful vocals on “Chain of Fools,” “Never Loved a Man” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” were impressive and definitely worth the wait.

One last thing: Channeling the Queen of Soul means dressing the part and Lathan looked regal in a red dress embellished with feathers and sequins. It was one of many groovy period looks from designer Amanda Vander Byl, whose terrific costumes ranged from flirty dresses accented with fluorescent appliqués, Mary Quant-style miniskirts and bedazzled, body-hugging numbers dripping in fringe.

• • •

Location: Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, (847) 634-0200,

Showtimes: 1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday; 1 p.m. select Thursdays through Aug. 11

Tickets: Start at $60; dinner/theater packages available

Running time: About 90 minutes, no intermission

Rating: For all ages

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