‘Beehive, the ’60s Musical’ set as Downriver Actors Guild fundraiser

Photo by Sue Suchyta
Musical director Wendy Fichter (right) of Allen Park warms up the Downriver Actors Guild cast of “Beehive” at Out of the Box Theater in Wyandotte. The cast includes Taylor residents Mishana Green (left), Kayla Nagy and Amanda Aue, and Southgate residents Annie Mann, Lara Keathley and Carol-Ann Black, who is directing and co-choreographing the show.

By Sue Suchyta
Travel back in time for some musical memories and a flashback to the 1960s as the Downriver Actors Guild presents “Beehive, the ’60s Musical” Feb. 8 to 10 and 15 to 17 at Out-of-the-Box Theater, 1165 Ford Ave. in Wyandotte.

Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8, 9, 15 and 16, at 3 p.m. Feb. 10 and 17 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 16, with a $15 ticket price.

For more information call 313-303-5269 or go to www.downriveractorsguild.net.

Featuring songs and hairdos immortalized by women singers of the ’60s, the show takes audiences on a musical journey recalling how social and political mores shaped the music of the era.

The show features the music of Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Leslie Gore, Connie Francis, Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark and more.

Director and co-choreographer Carol-Ann Black of Southgate said she hand-selected the cast, which includes Taylor residents Mishana Green, Kayla Nagy and Amanda Aue, and Southgate residents Annie Mann and Lara Keathley, and Jami Mullins of Trenton. Allen Park resident Wendy Fichter is the musical director.

Black said “Beehive” is special to her because it is the first show she saw in Chicago in 1986 as a young stage artist.

“This is the music, when I was a little girl, that my mom and dad were playing,” Black said. “I grew up with Dusty Springfield, then Lulu and the British Invasion.”

She said the group is putting a “girl power” slant on the show, and they hope to attract women’s groups, like Soroptimists, Red Hat groups and even Girl Scout troops to the production, and talk about girl power and empowering young women to be more than just sex symbols.

Black said the music of the women of the era was political, controversial and made women the stars in a revolutionary decade. She added that it helped kick off the women’s movement in the ’70s as well.

Black said she asked each cast member for a list of their favorite songs from the show, and she was able to give many of the cast members one of their top choices from the production to sing.

“You see the girl groups of the early ’60s, like the Shangri-Las, the Chiffons,” Black said. “Then you start seeing more of Leslie Gore, Connie Francis and then the British Invasion comes in, with Petula Clark and Lulu. And then Act II is all about the hippy generation: Janis Joplin, Janis Ian, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner – so it kind of takes you through the whole decade. So you start out in 1960 and you end at the end of the decade. It was really the decade of female rock ’n’ roll musicians.”

She added that it is difficult to get the rights to the show, because it is not held by a publishing company, but by the creators of the show. She said she believes Debbie Aue-Delgado, DAG’s artist director, was able to obtain permission to perform the show because of the nature of the fundraiser.

“Anybody that loves the music of the ’60s and the women, anyone that grew up in that time period hearing this music is really going to be taken back to their heyday,” Black said, “because the music is awesome.”

She added that even women unfamiliar with the music take away a message of female empowerment.

Black said the show is good for families, women’s groups and even as a date night.

Nagy, 16, a junior at St. Frances Cabrini High School in Allen Park, said the fundraiser will raise money for upcoming DAG shows, including “Into the Woods,” “The Jungle Book” and “Drop Dead.”

She said she prefers Broadway-style show tunes, and can sing either alto or soprano, filling in where needed.

She said “Do Right Woman,” by Aretha Franklin, is her favorite performance number, and she hopes to do justice to its Motown roots.

“It’s a fun show and it’s got a good message,” Nagy said. “And it’s one that can get (audiences) up and dancing, and (will) bring out your inner girl power.”

Aue said she loves to do shows with era-specific music.

She has two solos that were favorite songs when she was growing up: “It’s My Party” by Leslie Gore and “My Boyfriend’s Back” by the Angels.

“It’s just a fun show if you did grow up with the music,” Aue said. “It takes you back to dancing in your room to the music.”

Green also will dance to the music as she choreographs Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” for the show as well as perform. She first acted with DAG in its 2010 production of “Hairspray” and said she likes to move to the Motown sound.

Mann is looking forward to singing “Natural Woman” in the show because it is what she considers a “good belting song” and will be vocally fun to do. She said her vocal style ranges from church music to theater style.

“I was born in the ’60s and I love this music,” Mann said. “I know I’m really dating myself, but I think it will be a lot of fun just to do something with all girls. I just can’t wait to work with all these fun girls.”

Keathley said the women’s empowerment aspect of the show that the director is seeking is important to her as well, and the music draws the audience into the theme.

“I think we are all very powerful women in this group, so (the theme) will come across very well,” Keathley said. “There’s a lot of great music with a really talented cast, and (it will) be an enjoyable evening.”