Lauren Blair wasn’t yet born while Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin and Dusty Springfield were singing their way onto the American pop charts, but their music brings back childhood memories.
“My dad was heavy into 1960s music,” she recalls. “I remember growing up in the 1980s and listening to that music on our Sunday drives to the beach in our conversion van.”
“Beehive: The ’60s Musical” is a walk down memory lane, says Blair, who is directing Oregon Cabaret Theatre’s homage to the days of girl groups, miniskirts, transistor radios and flower power.
“It’s a fun, nostalgia piece for the audience,” she says.
With timeless classics such as “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “Be My Baby,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” and “Me and Bobby McGee” woven through the score, Blair says she’s feeling nostalgic too.
“The music of that era is my most favorite.”
“Beehive” officially opens Friday, Feb. 1, and will run through Sunday, March 31. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and a few selected Mondays and Wednesdays. Matinees are set for 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays throughout the run.
Reservations are required for the pre-show dinner or brunch. Appetizers, beverages and desserts are available without reservations. Tickets for all performances are $25 to $39.
The Cabaret offers a 20 percent ticket discount for groups of 12 or more. Student rush tickets can be purchased for $10 with valid student identification. Subject to availability, these tickets are sold 30 minutes before curtain. For additional information, or to purchase tickets, call the OCT box office at 541-488-2902 or visit oregoncabaret.com.
Blair, who co-directed Cabaret’s production of “Once” and assisted with direction for “Ring of Fire” and “Noises Off!” jumped at the chance to direct “Beehive.”
“It was important to have a female director,” she says.
Told from the perspective of six young women who came of age in the ’60s, Blair says “Beehive” zeroes in on a decade when music was important and iconic.
“Women were beginning to speak their minds through their music,” she says.
As a choreographer for more than 40 musicals, the musical revue aspect of the show was a natural fit. She admits she’s up and dancing at rehearsals.
Seen through the eyes and heard through the ears of Wanda — the central character — the show is a retrospective of the ’60s with the music center stage and breaking news events as a backdrop.
“It’s loosely a memory piece,” Blair says.
Wanda reminisces about being a 13-year-old singing and dancing in her bedroom as she listened to the music. In her fantasies, the female singers were her friends speaking to her through a transistor radio, Blair says.
“The play is not plot-heavy. It’s 95 percent music,” she says.
Wanda’s monologues connect the songs.
“The monologues are snippets of Wanda’s life,” Blair adds.
Wanda recollects what the music of the ’60s meant to her and her girlfriends, from their first Beehive dance to the nation’s struggles with the civil rights and women’s movements.
“The election and assassination of John F. Kennedy, the impact of Martin Luther King Jr. on the civil rights movement as well as society as a whole, and the effects of the Vietnam War on families with loved ones who never came back colored how we approached music,” Blair says. “Women weren’t singing about boy crushes anymore. They had something to say.”
While the show is upbeat, uplifting and up-tempo with the music and dance of the pop sensations, it does pull back and look at the real stuff.
“It’s more than shoo-wop-doo-wop,” Blair says. “The monologues are very relevant. Ironically, we’re still working on many of the issues.”
Newcomers Rosharra Francis and Tamara Daly join Cabaret alums Shae Celine, Asha Brownie-Gordon, Kristen Calvin and Carrie Lyn Brandon on stage.
Mike Wilkins, the musical director for “Chicago,” “The All Night Strut,” and “Once” at the Oregon Cabaret, returns to lead a four-piece live band for “Beehive.”
The behind-the-scenes crew includes choreographer Keenon Hooks, costume designer Kristie Mattsson, scenic designer Jason Bolen, lighting designer Chris Wood, props designer Drew Bangs and sound designer Kimberly Carbone.
“Beehive” has mild references to drug culture, alcohol and violence in some songs. If the show were a movie, it would be rated PG.