According to director Tajma Beverly, “Beehive,” created by Larry Gallagher and Skip Brevis, is a musical tour that travels through the decade examining how music created and performed by women helped catalyze social change.
Gallagher and Brevis compiled a score of pop, soul, folk, and rock ‘n’ roll with songs from “girl groups” like the Chiffons and The Shirelles; American and British vocalists including Leslie Gore, Connie Francis and Annette Funicello and Lulu. The jukebox musical also showcases powerhouse female artists of the late 1960s including Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell and Janis Joplin.
Beverly chose “Beehive” as her directorial debut at Skyline because the production not only entertains, but “has the power to really develop performers, as artists and as concerned citizens.” She enlisted Victoria Theodore, a Skyline alum, as the show’s musical director. Theodore is known for her work as keyboardist for Beyoncé, keyboardist and background singer for Stevie Wonder, and keyboardist and singer on the 2013 version of “The Arsenio Hall Show.”
Beverly and Theodore impart the skills and wisdom from their professional experience to their students.
“Whether there are 10 or 10,000 people in the audience, we as artists must always bring our best,” Theodore said. “I try to impart to the students, by example, the adage ‘How you do anything is how you do everything.’”
Beverly called Theodore “an impeccable musician with extremely high musical standards. It’s been great for me as the director because she can basically do anything, so it has been a dream for me.”
Like his fellow cast members, senior Richard Nguyen wasn’t familiar with much of the 1960s music before rehearsals began, but said he has learned a lot from the show’s directors.
Beverly said Nguyen and the cast researched the period’s history, from the innocent melodies of the early 1960s to the social turmoil of the late 1960s.
According to Beverly, rehearsals have been “a history lesson” with students learning about the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and the struggles women and African Americans have had to overcome in order to have a place of full citizenship in this country.
“Music was a huge part of mobilizing, and sustaining these movements,” Beverly said, explaining that it provided a way for society to reflect on itself, examine injustice, and formulate a new vision.
Beverly believes the music of the 1960s provides a template for
how music and musical artists can and should play to promote social change.
“It provides a model for artists today who want to make music that has a social impact,” she said.
FYI What: Skyline High School’s production of “Beehive: The ’60s Musical,” When: 7 p.m. through Friday; 3 p.m. Sunday Where: Rawley T. Farnsworth Theatre, 1250 Skyline Blvd. in Oakland
Tickets: $5 for students and teachers; $10 in advance; $15 at the door at http://bit.ly/skylinebeehive