Beehive | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Five and a half months into its run, and with two cast changes since opening night, Larry Gallagher's 60s-rock tribute Beehive maintains a buoyant freshness that offsets its slick, speeded-up run through more than 40 oldies but goodies. The six women in the cast combine high attitude, vibrant voices, and first-rate musicianship, playing off each other with whimsical spontaneity that lifts Beehive from the nostalgia-revue genre into the realm of ensemble music theater. The singers have grown individually, as well, especially Vicki Hubly, whose expanded high range brings remarkable authenticity to her Janis Joplin impersonation, and Anne Gunn, who ranges from a mock-operatic Connie Francis parody to a genuinely powerful reading of Janis Ian's "Society's Child." Megan McDonough and LaNitta Swanson's drawn-out duet on a medley of Aretha Franklin ballads reaches new heights of rapture and new subtleties of nuance with every show. The newcomers are Bobbi Wilsyn, a truly classy vocalist who proves surprisingly adept at skewering the grandiosity of such stars as Tina Turner and Diana Ross, and Paula Newsome, who handles the difficult (and sometimes mawkishly written) role of the narrator with quirky individuality that slyly draws the audience into her experience. Briar Street Theatre, through October 18. Tuesday-Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 7 and 10 PM; Sunday, 3 and 7 PM. $20.50-$24.50.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jennifer Girard.

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