beehive the wick

Beehive is Buzzworthy Girl Power

 

Beehive PRESS - 28I seem to recall the Wick getting some early criticism for recycling tried and true Broadway and off-Broadway faves rather than staging bold, new more avant-garde productions, but whomever said that may be rethinking it now.

The theater’s success over the past four seasons is indisputable; performances are often sold out and they get progressively more sophisticated. This past year I was blown away by how brilliantly “West Side Story” was staged in this small theater, and last Saturday night I was charmed in a different way by the current production of “Beehive, the 60s Musical.”

This musical revue was created in the late 1980s by the late Larry Gallagher, but it’s just as much fun almost 30 years later with its seven-woman cast of singers who trace the contributions and roles of women in 1960s music, from Lesley Gore to Janis Joplin. There are 30-some songs here (all were sung first by a woman) starting with “The Name Game” and “It’s My Party” and progressing through the tumultuous decade. Girl groups like the Shirelles (“Sweet Talkin’ Guy”) and the Supremes (“You Can’t Hurry Love”) are honored, as well as solo stars like Lesley Gore, Tina Turner, Dusty Springfield.

A special moment in the first act was when cast member Sarah Amengual crooned “Where The Boys Are,” and the audience erupted in applause—because the real Connie Francis was there in the audience.

The decade—and its gradual loss of innocence—is tracked by an occasional narrative in addition to music through the dark days of the assassination of John Kennedy and Martin Luther King as well as the British invasion, and ultimately, the summer of love and Woodstock.

The cast members’ voices are outstanding—to a woman—and exceptional performances are delivered by Trisha Jeffrey (“Never Loved A Man”) and Mallory Newbrough summoning up her inner Janis Joplin (“Try—Just A Little Harder”). The live band in Act II was a great addition, and the pace was lively.

This is almost a singalong revue but it avoids being sucked into the black hole of nostalgia through a great list of curated songs—and the wonder that it all happened in one single decade in history. They were the best of times and the worst of times—but they make an excellent evening of entertainment at The Wick.

The show runs through May 14; visit thewick.org to snag a seat.

kinky boots

Review: Kinky Boots at the Kravis Center

 

kinky boots

The closing bows for this show were unlike any I’ve ever experienced.

The show ended at the plot’s climax. The characters were still singing and dancing, and I found myself suddenly standing and clapping, not in applause, but to the beat of the music.

That’s what makes “Kinky Boots” such a wonderful show. It lifts you up—literally and figuratively.

The Broadway show, based on the British movie “Kinky Boots,” follows the hilarious and unlikely intersection of the lives of Charlie Price, who unwillingly inherited his father’s failing shoe company, and the drag queen Lola, who has been obsessed with sparkle, theatrics, the color red, and especially shoes, since childhood. Charlie meets Lola at a precarious time in his life, and Lola, a man who dresses like a woman for a living, teaches Charlie big lessons on what it means to truly be “a man.” You likely won’t be too surprised by this story as it follows a typical story arc. Nevertheless the acting and plot are brilliant.

Charlie and Lola attempt to save Price & Sons by changing the product, which was a line of well-made men’s shoes, into well-made shoes for men—who dress like women. The story is about acceptance, transformation, empathy, tolerance, passion and self expression. It’s fitting that the high heeled-boot is a metaphor for “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.”

What made “Kinky Boots” so compelling to me and my co-worker who joined me was the dancing and choreography (by Jerry Mitchell), almost entirely performed in really high heels. We’re talking 5-6 inches, and the female characters and male characters wearing those heels equally pulled off the stunts (splits, jumps, twirls) flawlessly. This was exhibited perfectly in the final song in Act 1, “Everybody Say Yeah,” which included technical choreography on treadmills.

You can’t talk about this show without talking about the music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper. The pop beats kept the show upbeat and zany, and the slowing of pace changed things up and piqued my interest. Lola’s solo “Hold Me in Your Heart” was beautiful, and actor Timothy Ware conveyed deep emotion—the kind that brings a lump to your throat. My favorite song was “Sex is in the Heel.” It was just so fun and such a celebration of human sensuality and self expression. It’s important to note that after the show, I desperately regretted not wearing heels that night.

Since its first show in 2012 “Kinky Boots” has only become more relevant. In February, President Donald Trump rescinded Obama-era protections for transgender students in schools that allowed them to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. The messages of love and acceptance in “Kinky Boots,” delivered via comedy, lyrics, fashion and of course drag queens, should be listened to with open ears. What’s great about “Kinky Boots” is that it teaches us that whether you’re a “trans veteran” or just a burly dude, you are what you say you are, and no one else has a right to define you.

Can you tell I loved it?


Kinky Boots plays at the Kravis Center through April 23. For tickets go to kravis.org.

Shayna is the Web Editor of Boca Magazine. She is a 20-something sorta-recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in journalism. Most of her time is spent fawning over cats and kittens; cooking food at home for her family; and observing Florida’s greatest asset: nature.
phantom of the opera

Review: Phantom of the Opera at the Kravis Center

 

phantom of the opera

“Phantom of the Opera,” Broadway’s longest-running musical, is showing at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach until Friday, April 1. With a reboot from producer Cameron Mackintosh and under the direction of Laurence Connor, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit production is back and better than ever. Mackintosh is no stranger to breathing new life into classic shows—he’s already redone “Les Miserables” and “Miss Saigon.”

But “Phantom” is special. Its literary beginnings date back to 1909, when Gaston Leroux first published the story. This gothic French novel draws on themes of tragedy, darkness, alienation, unrequited love, and of course, the supernatural.

In its original American stage production (starting in 1988), Lloyd Webber touches on these themes, especially the unrequited love and the supernatural. However, his version fails to marry the humanity of the phantom with the rest of the characters, which is something that Mackintosh does well, among other details.

Here’s an overview of noteworthy changes in Mackintosh’s overhaul of “Phantom of the Opera”:

The chandelier

“Lot 666, then, a chandelier in pieces …” This opening line, which originally introduced the chandelier, hasn’t changed, but its animation and famous release are timed later in the performance. The placement now makes more sense and adds a more dramatic flair. Additionally, the chandelier itself shines and sparkles more brightly than before.

Masquerade ball

This is the scene that has changed the most. Spoiler alert: there’s no longer a grand staircase. Instead, the stage is full of mirrors (including a circular one hanging above the cast) to create an illusion of more dancers than are actually present. It redefines the haunting, mysterious undertones of the show and toes the fine line of reality and fantasy. The choreography by Scott Ambler is beautifully done. It’s longer than Lloyd Webber’s production, so take time to soak in the music and the original 19th-century costumes by Maria Bjornson.

Set design

Unlike past designs, the new set by Paul Brown takes audiences deeper into the world of the opera and its mad genius. The set rotates 360 degrees, and there’s a staircase down into the phantom’s lair that is steep and dangerous, just as one would imagine. And the lair itself is darker and dingier, despite a few candelabras scattered on and around the organ.

The changing room for the corps de ballet is relatively the same, as is the opening at the auction and the manager’s office. However, the numerous backdrops for each opera house rehearsal and performance (“Hannibal,” “Il Muto,” and “Don Juan Triumphant”) are more detailed and colorful than in the past, along with extra props and furniture. It helps bridge the gap between imagination and reality of the stage to form a more complete understanding of each scene.

Phantom’s human interactions

Previously, the phantom felt somewhat detached from the rest of the cast, with the exception of Christine Daaé. He hid in the shadows and watched people from high above or down below. But Mackintosh’s phantom, played by Derrick Davis, is different. His presence is more palpable throughout the play. He reads letters to the new opera owners, speaks directly to masquerade attendees and cast when he drops off his score for “Don Juan Triumphant.” Such inclusion makes the phantom seem relatable, rather than an unknown being to be feared.

Special effects

Gunshots, fire and shadows projected on stage are only a few of the numerous special effects that bring “Phantom” to life. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. Keep an eye out.


Overall, Cameron Mackintosh’s changes are definitely beneficial for “Phantom.” They add depth, not distraction, to a timeless classic, without being too much or too over-the-top. And the most important aspect, the music, hasn’t changed at all.

Allison Lewis is the associate editor at Boca Raton Magazine and a native St. Louisan. She earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo. In her spare time, Allison enjoys cooking, playing Ultimate frisbee, reading, traveling and watching sports.