Kayla Gross is Aretha Franklin in NextStop Theatre Company's Beehive/Photo by Lock and Company
You just thought she had passed.
Guuurrrrlllll...When you hear Kayla Gross sing Aretha and belt out those tunes, you'll think you've gone to heaven and are right there with the star, I promise you that.
Landsakes alive, you're in Herndon at the NextStop Theatre, swayin' and wavin' and rockin' with the rest of 'em, to Aretha's hymns and a few more, like about 30 from all sorts of swingin' 60s singers which this show is all about.
It's not just Aretha! No sirree. How about Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Lesley Gore, the Shirelles, Supremes, Chiffons, Connie Francis, and more! How about that? Let's go to the show!
The cast of Beehive now on stage at Herndon's NextStop Theatre Company/Photo by Lock and Company
The singing is big, brassy, and feisty (Lawdhavemercy! That Hilary Morrow can shake a tail feather!), and the name of the show is Beehive where those bees are buzzing just fine and flying around and having themselves a good time and carrying the audience right along with them, yes, they are.
I loved this Beehive (which refers to big hair designed by Maude Salon and not insects).
It was a happy time, and the girls don't just sing. They dance all night long and change costumes rapid fire, costume designer Sandra Spence made sure of that.
All six actresses are way done up and beautiful in about 20 different outfits each, it seemed, and dominated by white go-go boots. (Applause to wardrobe assistants who helped with changes.)
If I have to name favorite performances, all of them made the cut, but definitely, the solos I would welcome hearing again, most strengthened by the ensemble, especially
Bethel Elias when it comes to Aretha.
Ms. Morrow's sexy, naughty "You Don't Own Me" set the pace which the others mastered with skill and pizazz.
When Rebecca Ballinger comes out from behind a curtain in a semi-formal gown wearing long white gloves and a corsage to sing Connie Francis and "Where the Boys Are," she's better than Connie Francis singing "Where the Boys Are," and I'll wager there wasn't one person over a certain age in the audience who didn't go back decades remembering, remembering...
Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" led by Shayla Lowe was a crowd favorite, and then there was Allison Bradbury who sings Janis Joplin better than Janis Joplin, and she had no trouble electrifying the audience. (She plays guitar, too.)
Another favorite early on was "One Fine Day" with Ms. Lowe, Ms. Bradbury, and Ms. Ballinger.
Beehive's Creator Larry Gallagher smartly mixed the numbers up with fast and slow tunes.
The set (by Jack Golden) is what's expected, no more, no less: A performing stage with glittering, shimmering curtains, changing lights, elevation, and a utility pole or two on which to cling, slink and sing. Who needs set changes when magnetic actors and their songs lock our attention?
Marika Countoris is one of the music directors, joined by Matthew Winslow Brown who plays keyboards and leads the orchestra of five other musicians who are a huge factor in the show's success.
Fabulous choreography by Shaylyce Hemby match the beats and the effusive energy of these versatile singers.
At the start a few male audience members were asked to join the frolics on stage, but the majority's resistance convinced me they were genuine and not "plants." (One accepted the invitation for a few brief seconds for his "night in the lights.")
It's not all rosy at NextStop. Just before intermission the stage darkens and the unforgettable video of Walter Cronkrite is played to remind us that JFK was shot dead, as if we could forget. Please, leave it out. Girls just want to have fun.
Despite that sad interruption, you may find yourself humming later a few bars of whatever tunes you remember the most. For me, it's You Don't Own Me which is still making the rounds in my head.
Opening night was a sell-out and set the stage for the remainder of the run, once word gets to the street about the sheer entertainment Beehive is, the most enjoyable I've seen at NextStop.
Director Monique Midgette can put this one in her "win" column, for sure.
Other creative team members are Brittany Shemuga, lighting; Kevin Alexander, sound; Alex Wade, properties;
Laura Moody, production stage manager; Quoc Tran, rehearsal stage manager and assistant, lighting; Rachel Appel and Kelly McNesby, assistant stage managers; Suzy Alden, scenic painter; Rachel Holcomb, master electrician; Kristin Hamby and Jeremy Jackson, sound mixers;
In the orchestra: Mitch Bassman and Allen Howe, tenors;
Andrew Velez and Mark Davis, trumpets; Rick Peralta, guitar; Jonas Creason, bass; T.J. Maistros and Kendell Haywood, percussion.
When: Now through September 22, 2019, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 12 and 19 at 8 p.m.; Saturday matinee, Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. Check dates and times.
Where: NextStop Theatre Company, 269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon, VA 20170 in the back right corner of Sunset Business Park, near the intersection of Spring Street/Sunset Hills Road. Right off the Fairfax County Parkway. Lots of great restaurants nearby.
Lighted, free parking: Available near the door.
Admission: General admission tickets start at $40. Buy online or through the box office at 866-811-4111.
Duration: About 90 minutes with one 15-minute intermission
Refreshments: Available and may be taken to seats
For more information: 703-481-5930 or email@example.com