Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Beehive" and Planets in the '60s.

On Friday, after Thursday's citizenship interview, we drove from Oklahoma City the 20 or so miles northward to Guthrie, and decided to stay overnight. Guthrie was the original state capital, and retains some lovely Victorian red brick architecture - fairly uncommon in this part of the world, and looked on, quite rightly, as something to preserve and treasure. For entertainment, Friday night, we had a choice of a drive-in movie or a visit to the local theatre, currently in the midst of a run of the musical "Beehive". I've always fancied experiencing a drive-in movie, a typical, now almost vanished, 20th century American pastime. It was so hot and humid though, we'd have needed to keep the car's the air conditioning running all the time. We opted for a theatre visit instead.

I'd never heard of "Beehive" the musical. It's a 40-song revue, a tribute to female pop stars of the 1960s. A cast of six amateur, semi-professional and professional female singers entertained us for a couple of pleasantly nostalgic hours. The show's songs usher the audience through girl groups of the early sixties: Shirelles, Chiffons, Shangri-las and the like, then solo artistes Lesley Gore, Connie Francis etc. to some female singers who skipped across the Atlantic from Britain on the coat tails of The Beatles :Lulu, Dusty Springfield, and Petula Clark. A sombre rendition of "The Beat Goes On" follows, with narration recounting how the innocence and froth of the very early 1960s was replaced by songs about civil rights and political activism. On to the divas of that era, most still with us today, mature versions of their '60s selves: Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Tina Turner and last but not least Janis Joplin. By this time the beehive wigs had been swapped for long and straggly or straight and smooth.

The six Guthrie gals were great, especially the ones singing Janis Joplin and Diana Ross. The only weak part of the show, I thought, were the costumes. But heck, this isn't Broadway, it's just a medium-sized country town, and an independently run theatre, the gals probably had to sew their own. Hair-dos weren't really quite extreme enough either, the costume department must have had to make do with standard off-the-peg wigs.

It was nice to see the ladies having it all their own way for once !

Did 1960s astrology reflect the swing away from a fairly innocent, old fashioned style into something completely different, then on to more politically motivated music ? Well, the outer planets are the only ones which might tell a tale here. Neptune was in Scorpio and Pluto in Virgo right through the decade. Uranus shuffled a little between Leo and Virgo, but remained in Virgo most of the time. So there was an underlying base of passionate emotion (Scorpio) tempered with a more earthy sensibility (Virgo). Most of the shift was provided by Saturn, whose orbit takes 84 years, spending around 7 years per sign. Saturn moved from commonsense, old fashioned earthy Capricorn, where it was more or less in tune with the other three outer planets into airy Aquarius in 1962 until early '64 - just the time the Beatles erupted onto the scene in the USA and changed popular music forever! Saturn then moved on to compassionate Pisces, and by the end of the 60s into aggressive Mars ruled Aries, coinciding with the tragic events of 1968. (See earlier blog about 1968 here).

Here's an advertising clip for a "bigtime" version of the show. The hair and costumes may leave Guthrie's in the shade, but I suspect the voices were as good, maybe even better, here in Oklahoma.


R J Adams said...

I loved the sixties. While some today curse the era and accuse it of destroying 'family values' (whatever they are!) I believe the suppression of sixties' ideals was a tragedy. How can anyone argue with such slogans as "Make love, not war" and "Power to the people"?
Of course, it had its dark side, but overall the sixties, with its outburst of music, fashion, and open-mindedness was, in my opinion, one of those great moments in human history. Sadly, it turned out to be no more than a bubble that burst.

Twilight said...

I see the '60s in a much brighter and happier light with hindsight - the decade was soured for me because I was living through a bad marriage and the fall-out, so didn't get involved in all the fun at the time.

The decade was, as you say, a great moment in history, unlikely to ever be forgotten, even after those of us who lived through it are long gone. :-)

Wisewebwoman said...

Oh I loved the sixties, T. I wore long dresses and headbands and hair to my waist and marched in the protests for Vietnam and had draft dodgers at our parties in Toronto. I played my music at the drop of a hat and was too far advanced in pregnancy to make Woodstock but got first hand reports from my friends.
It is almost surreal looking back, like did all that really happen?
Your show sounded great, I much prefer the semi-amateur efforts. the pros are just too slick....

Twilight said...

WWW - I have a picture of the "you" belonging to the 1960s -
a swingin' chick if ever there was one! :-)

Twilight said...

I meant to say "a mental picture"

Twilight said...

I meant to say "a mental picture"