- Last Updated on 08:03 AM 04/09/14
- BY Greg Donner/Special to the Gazette
As Halifax County Little Theatre prepares for the April 25 opening of “Beehive:” The 60’s Rock Musical,” director Vicky Thomasson can be heard repeatedly saying, “I can’t believe the talent we have here in Halifax County.”
With rehearsals getting more intense, the singers, dancers and supporting cast are upping the intensity with each song.
One group of the participants that shows their true professional level of excellence is the “Beehive” Band, under the musical direction of Bob Thomasson. This is Thomasson’s second time around with one of the most popular shows in Halifax County Little Theatre’s history, and he has assembled a group of seasoned musicians to rock The Prizery stage.
The group members have a number of things in common, including a love for entertaining and the fact that they all have full-time jobs and obligations in addition to a love of music. Individually, they come from a number of musical groups, but they are all integrating their musical talents to create a new sound for the show.
Several members of the group are veterans of the original production of “Beehive” including Tony Thomas, John Sibley and Ray Crawley.
Thomas is featured on bass for the show and has appeared in other Halifax County Little Theatre musicals, including “Smokey Joe’s Café” and “Suds.” He has a long professional history but says he really likes doing the musical shows because it feels so good to have the audience react to the performance. He also is impressed with the singing ability of the divas in the show. Thomas spends his days fixing accident victims’ vehicles at Thomas Brothers Body Shop. They have been particularly busy since the recent snow season, but Thomas never misses a beat with the band.
Ray Crawley is also a veteran of the Halifax County Little Theatre stage and has been in most of the shows the Thomassons have directed. He is so dedicated to the process that he makes the trip from Durham several times a week for rehearsals, even after putting in a full day as a counselor working with substance abusers referred by the court system.
Crawley said, “It will be worth it opening night. Vicky always ends up with a giant hit, and this one will be extra special with the singers she has assembled.”
Crawley also says he is always amazed with the talent of the whole cast and the joy that is shared with people who have always wanted to have the chance to be on stage but have other obligations.
He said, “This gives a lot of people the chance to show what they can do, and that is a wonderful feeling.”
Sibley is returning to the band as a saxophone and flute player after just completing a music degree at Longwood University. He says he is glad he loves the music so much because he is working more in rehearsal for this show than he ever did at Longwood. With so much to master in a short time, the band is almost like a full-time job.
Two new additions to the “Beehive” musical contingent are Ben Pinkston and Ricky Whitlow. Both have a long history with other local bands and share a love for playing every chance they get. Whitlow fills the role of lead guitar and comes to the band after playing with several local groups, including the Christian rock band “3 Nails.” He balances his musical performance with a full-time painting contractor business and serves as associate pastor of The Worship Center. He says it is hard to find the time for everything, but it is worth it if the audiences love the show as much as the performers.
Pinkston is also a veteran of several local bands, including “Cata 9 Tales.” He commutes from Mecklenburg County after working days in the construction business. This is his first musical theatre experience, and he is very impressed with the talent the Thomassons have assembled. He said he is happiest when he is playing and excited to experience the connection of the show’s cast and the audience on opening night.
Joining the experienced band members is a first time performer, Kennedy Dyer, who has been added as a percussionist. She is a high school student who practices daily with the Comets’ softball team and rushes to band rehearsal to learn the ins and outs of a band. She joins her mother, Tasha Dyer, who is one of the divas.
She said, “I was here anyway watching, so I was glad to join in where I could.”
With only two weeks before “Beehive” premieres, all of these players will be doing double and triple duty. One thing is evident; they will all be having a great time doing something they truly love and sharing their talents with audiences who want a special musical night out.
The show opens Friday, April 25, at 7:30 p.m. in The Prizery theatre. Evening performances continue on April 26, 29 and May 1, 2 and 3. Matinee performances are set for April 26, 27 and May 3 and 4 at 3 p.m.
Tickets are on sale now at The Prizery box office. Adult tickets are $16, and student tickets are $10 for students 13 and older and $8 for children 12 and under.
Make plans to attend early because visitors may want to make a second trip later. This is one show that will appeal to all ages and musical tastes.
“Beehive: The 60’s Rock Musical” is a return to a simpler time where the music defined a generation, but it is also music for every generation.