by Nancy Holley
Special KRL coupon code at the end of this article.
Join the Visalia Players for Beehive, the musical, a trip down memory lane, or for those who are younger, a peek into a time that was turbulent, jubilant, and by some, considered innocent. The 1960s was a decade that for women encompassed a transition from homemaker of the 1950s, picture June Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver) to the freedom of making their way in the world, envision Janis Joplin (Me and Bobby McGee).
Beehive opens January 24 and runs for four rollicking weeks. The cast kept emphasizing how much fun the show is and that the audience will want to sing along and dance in the aisles. According to Director Leeni Mitchell, they will be encouraged to do just that.
Imagine an evening with Diana Ross and the Supremes, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, and more. Not familiar with these great ladies? Google them. They were amazing, and their music helped set the tone for an era.
By many, Beehive is considered a revue of powerful songs of the 1960s that emphasized female empowerment and then morphed into the challenges of the time including the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Vietnam War. The young people facing the struggles of those years needed the uplifting vibrance of music for survival.
The background of the talented cast of Beehive is varied from an individual (Susan Mathews) who has graced the Ice House Stage numerous times to those new to the Players including Jana Blair and Lori Pasion-Gonzales. Welcoming new actors to the Visalia Players is always a joy.
Mathews carries the bulk of the narration for the show. She noted, “There isn’t a ton of dialogue, but it provides orientation and history for the songs, bringing the show along through the decade.” Mathews is also responsible for the costumes.
Another cast member preforming double duty is Becca Coffey-Godfrey. She will be remembered by those who frequent Visalia Players’ performances as Bonnie in Bonnie & Clyde. Coffey-Godfrey is the choreographer for the show as well as Laura who sings songs by Janis Joplin, Lulu, and others.
In creating the dance numbers, Coffey-Godfrey played to the strengths of her fellow actors. “They are all dancers. They just didn’t know they had it in them.” Her favorite numbers in the show include “You Don’t Own Me” and “The Beehive Dance.” She noted that the former “shows Laura’s attitude and strong will” and the latter “is very high energy with dancing and singing at full voice.”
Debra Hansen, Jen Masters, and Kristyne Mauricio were recently seen in Four Weddings and an Elvis. Hansen emphasized that she is a back-up singer in the show who “loves the tight close harmonies that are resonant and deep.” Masters adores the “dreamy quality of ‘Walking in the Rain’.”
Mauricio’s favorite is “One Fine Day.” “It is so upbeat. I have always loved it and was very excited that my character got to sing it.” Mauricio also explained, “There is minimal interaction between the characters. Our responsibility is to get the audience involved.”
Pattie, portrayed by Hillari Loeffler, has such favorites as “It’s My Party” and “Will You still Love me Tomorrow?” Loeffler was in last season’s Honky Tonk Angels and is very excited to be working once again with Mitchell and music directors Conn and Iden.
Jana Blair, as Gina, cannot believe her good fortune in having songs made famous by Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Pattie LaBelle. When asked about her favorite, Blair indicated that she loves them all, but “If I’m forced to choose, “Natural Woman’ is number one, but “Proud Mary” is a very close second.”
Lori Pasion-Gonzales just casually mentioned to Director Mitchell that she would be glad to help and suddenly found herself singing and dancing! “I didn’t realize how much work it would be, but it’s been fabulous.”
Mitchell invites everyone to come and have a great time. “I love doing crowd pleasers!”
Beehive opens at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 24 and runs for four weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 1/24, 1/25, 1/31, 2/1, 2/7, 2/8, 2/14, and 2/15, and matinees at 2 p.m. on 1/26, 2/2, 2/9, and 2/16.
For more information about the Visalia Community Players and to purchase tickets, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 734-3900. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.
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To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter KRLBHV in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website.
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