WHERE THE GIRLS ARE: From Connie and Ronnie through Annette and Aretha, from the kitschy-cooing of "Where The Boys Are" to the righteous roar of "Respect," Arena Stage's "Beehive" is a baby-boomer's dream show, a summer slumber party that summons the heroines, harmonies and hairdos of the '60s. The show's six singers keep the energy at the Kreeger Theater as high as their triple-scoop coifs.
"Beehive" begins with an affectionate romp through innocent girl-group goop, as members of the audience are tugged into "The Name Game" by effervescent Rozz Morehead, who serves as tour guide. Jodi Socolof does well by the Shangri-La's micro-melodramas, and Valarie Pettiford pegs early-period Diana Ross as a drop-dead diva, then turns around and becomes a maliciously perky Annette Funicello.
The evening's sustained high point comes when the tear-stained trio of Lesley Gore, Brenda Lee and Connie Francis are conquered by the bouffant British invasion of pop tarts Petula Clark, Lulu and Dusty Springfield.
Act two takes up the tail end of the decade, and the girls go wild. "Beehive" signs off on the '60s by concentrating on three major voices: Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin. Andrea Frierson dazzles with Turner's dervish dancing and night train rasp on "Proud Mary," then does right by Franklin, stopping the show with "Do Right Woman." Magda Nova's Janis Joplin has got the voice down, but not the attitude; her overlong segment seems like Cyndi Lauper mimicking Joplin.
The vocal interpretations throughout are a shade too knowing and show-busy, but in the pleasure of recognizing a favorite song, it's possible to forget you're watching imitations. The six-man band, led by Skip Brevis, provides unflaggingly lively support, though it fails to supply distinctive stylistic touches, coming across more like the Letterman Late Night house band.
Choreographer Leslie Dockery turns the Kreeger into a Land of a Thousand Dances, with the Pony, the Mashed Potato and the Swim all represented; costume designer David Dille's clothes go from chiffon to vinyl, pedal pushers to patched jeans. And you'd have to drive to Dundalk to see such an assortment of hyper-hairdos.
With its clever giant-jukebox set, "Beehive," which began at Sweetwaters in Manhattan, fits comfortably into the Kreeger, though it remains essentially a nightclub act. Creator/director Larry Gallagher has made a cursory attempt to thread the songs together with a superficial where-were-you-when-Kennedy-died tour of the '60s. But Gallagher shows unassailable taste in choosing the songs, and the tunes tell the tale of the times.
Plus, "Beehive" has a good beat, and you can dance to it -- I give it a 95. BEEHIVE -- At Arena Stage's Kreeger Theater through August 24.