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Dancing, do-wops blend in ‘Beehive’

Dancer and choreographer Agnes de Mille once said, “The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music. Bodies never lie.”  

The blending of dance and music is nearly inseparable, since one is almost always done with the other.  Singing can tell a story, but dancing tells a story within a story.

 “Beehive:  The 60’s Rock Musical” opens this Friday at 7:30 on The Prizery stage, and audiences will bear witness to this merging of the dance and the music.  And what a merging there will be.  The music of the 60s will explode on the stage with all the famous songs of the female singers of the decade.  

Director Victoria Thomasson said, “The dancing adds layers and texturing to the vocals; it makes the vocals richer and deeper.  It brings an emotion, a heart, a new layer to the song. I am so fortunate in this show to have truly gifted dancers and also backup singers – the “do-wops of rock” - who also can dance.”

Pat Crew and Tricia Ricketts are the choreographers of “Beehive,” and each of them brings her own level of expertise to the show. 

Thomasson added, “Mz Pat sees the large picture, that glorious overall placement of the bodies and the movement of the dance, and Tricia sees the minute details, the placement of a hand or the tilt of the head.  When you put the talents of these two women together, they achieve magic on stage.”  

Crew said, “Most of the dancers are former students of mine, which has made it easy. The dance definitely tells a story; it is as much an interpretation as singing and acting.  Tricia and I work so well together in that one of us always picks up where the other leaves off.  Community theater is so important, and we have so much phenomenal local talent that the journey is a pleasure.” 

These Beehive dancers consist of Dawn Adams, Sarah Collie, Kirk Compton, Erica Grubbs, Jill Bradley-Hall and Lauren Tetterton, and the Do-wops, who sing and also dance throughout the show, are composed of Antonio Callands, Joy Cunningham, Sandy McPherson, Mario Sadler, Roger Thaxton Jr. and Keely Wheeler.  

 Cunningham was also a dancer in the original Beehive production 10 years ago. 

She said, “One of my closest friends growing up convinced me to audition back then, and while I was a little nervous and too shy to sing, I accepted an offer to dance and loved every bit of the process.  Working with Vicky Thomasson is awesome, and while I’m older now, I knew the process of doing the show, however challenging or stressful, would be good for my spirit and my soul, and I’m grateful to be a part of it again.”

All the other dancers and do-wops are new to the “Beehive” experience, and they are quick to say that while it is hard work, it is also fun.  

Dancer Erica Grubbs is a first grade teacher during the day, but she puts her dancing shoes on each night.  

She said, “’Beehive’ dance is exciting and full of energy, and this experience has been a blast, and who doesn’t love to do the twist?”  

Dawn Adams credits “Beehive” diva Kelly Worley with encouraging her to audition, and she said, “I am so thankful for the encouragement.  It made me step out of my box and do some things I probably would never have tried.”   

She credits the choreographers with working hard to achieve their visions, and she said, “The audience travels back through time with the music, and we dance you there.”  

Another first grade teacher involved with “Beehive” is Sarah Collie, who remembers seeing the original “Beehive” years ago, and as a dancer for most of her life and now an adult, she thought it would be fun to be in the show.  

She said, “Dance is my biggest passion, and in this production it takes the audience on a roller coaster of emotions.  You will want to stand up and dance with us, you will laugh, and you may even cry through some of our performances.” 

Kirk Compton agreed, saying, “I believe that dancing is another layer in the picture that director Vicky Thomasson is painting on the stage.  It’s a physical interpretation of what the song is about or the emotions portrayed.  Furthermore, it takes some of the pressure off the divas and allows them to focus on singing the songs, while we, the dancers, add flash and sparkle with our moves.”  

All the dancers agree that this show has brought new friends together and made them close companions now.  

Dawn Adams said, “I have met some amazing people and made new friendships that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”  

Adding to that vein, Compton said, “As a group the dancers have become pretty tight-knit, so we’re on task when the time calls for it, but we also make each other laugh during our downtime.”  

Singer and dancer Sandy McPherson is loving being in the show, saying, “It’s been a while since I taught children’s choir and sang often in public, but the timing of this show and the music and era it is about moved me to audition. It could not be more perfect for me for my first time in a Little Theatre show.  The choreographers are so patient with me, and all of the ‘real’ dancers have shown me so much love and encouragement.  I love our dancer do-wop group; we span quite a range of ages and backgrounds, but we all work really well together.” 

While some of the dances and songs are cute and funny or sophisticated and sleek, there are some with deeper emotions.  

Thomasson said one of the show’s more important songs that shows the grittier part of the decade is “The Beat Goes On,” which will be used to tell the story of the American involvement in the Vietnam War.  

She said, “The soldiers had to face a new kind of war that they didn’t know exactly how to fight, and then they had to face an America that didn’t want to know about it. These dancers will tell these men’s stories.”

Compton concluded by saying, “Little Theatre might have done ‘Beehive’ 10 years ago, but believe me, this is not the ‘Beehive’ that was done before.  We’ve reached new heights with this show, in the quality of the music, the expansion of the dance and the production values.  So much has gone into making this production memorable that to miss seeing it would be a tragedy.” 

Audiences have 10 opportunities to make that not happen.  The show opens this Friday night at 7:30, followed by two shows on Saturday and another one Sunday afternoon.  Then the following week there are nighttime shows on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and matinees again on Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m.   

Tickets can be purchased at the Halifax County Visitor’s Center, at The Prizery or by calling 572-8339 or going to www.prizery.com. Little Theatre also has extended box office hours until 7 p.m. on non-show nights so people can drop by The Prizery on their way home from work or call in to speak to someone.