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Beehive Is a #MeToo Musical That Predates the Internet

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If every history lesson were set to the kind of music that fills Beehive - The 60s Musical, it's a fair bet that a lot more high schoolers would pass the AP history exam. Created by booking agent and 60s music enthusiast Larry Gallagher in the mid-80s, Beehive is less a story than a tribute to the ladies who set the American music charts on fire in the decade of swing, and an explanation of the turbulent politics that underpin their foot-tapping tunes.

One of the lines, shouted in chorus by the six powerhouse women vocalists on stage for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival's production, summed up Beehive's female-empowerment theme: "This wasn't their time, this was our time! This was the 60s!"

Watching the ISF production Sept. 11, it was easy to get sucked into its inherent contradictions. On the one hand, the musical's female leads—played by Adrianna Cleveland, Annalise Griswold, Shelby Griswold, Christina Perrault, Camille Robinson and Hannah-Jo Weisberg, all of whom took turns stunning the crowd at the mic—sang about independence and self-worth in tracks like "You Don't Own Me" and "It's My Party." On the other, they wore pert pastel dresses, performed neat toe touches and occasionally fell into fits of giggles over the sweetness of men. It was that delicate dance between housewife and activist that truly embodied the 60s, padded by references to Woodstock, mile-high hairdos and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK. Icons like Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Tina Turner and many more filled the soundtrack, pushing the ISF actresses to their vocal limits.

Beehive was undoubtedly a lot of fun—Annalise Griswold's spunky performance of "My Boyfriend's Back," which sees her swing from angel to ax murderer in a matter of seconds, was a standout—but it also felt eerily prescient, bringing to mind the #MeToo movement that exploded decades after the events it portrayed.

"Women were unifying behind women with a call for change," Robinson told the crowd between renditions of "River Deep Mountain High" and "Proud Mary." Despite decades of progress, it seems some things remain the same.