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Mill Town Players Irresistible in 1960s "Beehive"

By Paul Hyde/Special to Anderson Observer

Ain't no cure for the summertime blues?

Think again: The Mill Town Players are offering an irresistible production of "Beehive," a dance-happy revue centered on the upbeat music of the female singers of the 1960s.

This is a dynamite show.

Greenville's go-to choreographer Kimberlee Ferreira has assembled a terrific five-member cast and given the show an infectious joy and momentum.

Friday's opening-night audience packed the house and frequently roared its approval.

There's no plot really. "Beehive" buzzes through more than two dozen familiar tunes of the 60s -- songs of innocence first and experience later -- with the vocalists providing a little context along the way.

Act 1 covers the carefree beehive period of the early 60s. Act 2 deepens and occasionally darkens the mood to reflect a more troubled era.

It's a show that gets better as it journeys through the years, finding gold along the way.

Act 1 spotlights buoyant oldies such as "The Name Game," "It's My Party" and "One Fine Day." Act 2 offers "Son of a Preacher Man," "Somebody to Love," and tributes to Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin.

This crowd-pleasing "Beehive" is a must-see. It's a summertime lark, but if you also detect an underlying message of the power and creative spirit of women -- well, all the better.

The cast is superb, taking the stage with poise and pizzazz.

Tiffany Nave returns to a role she memorably played in Greenville years ago, channeling Janis Joplin with humor and go-for-broke commitment. Nave also offers a sultry turn on "Son of a Preacher Man" and a mellow, tear-drenched "Abraham, Martin, and John."

Beverly Clowney pours on the passion in "Natural Woman" and righteously lays down the law in "My Boyfriend's Back" and "Proud Mary."

Meris Privette, a petite actress with a sparkling stage presence, soars wonderfully on Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love."

Celia Blitzer brings a smooth, caressing voice to such songs as "Walking in the Rain," "Sweet Talkin' Guy" and "One Fine Day."

Ashley Wettlin sings a soulful "Where the Boys Are" and later unleashes some powerhouse vocals on her dynamic "You Don't Own Me."

Ferreira's high-energy choreography, composed here of a host of 1960s social dances, never fails to please. 

The singers are backed by a top-notch five-member band. The overall musical direction is under the excellent leadership of Joshua C. Morton.

Will Ragland's cheery set design is based on a motif of circles that may put you in mind of Mod styles favored by the Austin Powers movies or the 1960s game Twister.

Katie Halstensgard's colorful costume designs nicely trace the changing fashions of the 1960s.

Tony Penna's  animated lighting design brings the set alive and helps drive the pace of the show. 

Ragland, executive artistic director of the Mill Town Players, has really performed something of a miracle in the small town of Pelzer in just a few short years: brought great and affordable theatre to town to please a range of tastes.

"Beehive" continues through Aug. 12: Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 3 p.m. For tickets, call 864-947-8000 or see the website

Also, check out next season's shows, including "The Marvelous Wonderettes," "Romeo and Juliet," "Crimes of the Heart," "Pump Boys and Dinettes," "A Pelzer Gospel Homecoming," "Annie Get Your Gun" and several others. 

Paul Hyde, a veteran Upstate journalist, writes about everything under the South Carolina sun. Write to him at Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7. 

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