(theatermania) We went to this show because we were told the music is wonderful and it is. Furthermore it es almost non-stop. Consisting of a mix of gospel, soft rock, and R & B sung by 12 superb singers and played by 10 musicians stationed around the stage, the songs are glorious. (playbill) One reviewer felt that the novel was not faithfully fulfilled, but we were very happy that the plot did not overburden what was a beautifully performed 2 1/2 hours of musical theater. There was enough play, by the way, to carry the plot.
The action takes place in racially divided 1964 South Carolina against the backdrop of President Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights legislation and the murder of the three civil rights workers, Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman. Lily is a teen-aged white girl who runs away from her abusive father (timessquarechronicles) with the family’s black nanny. They flee to a kind of sanctuary where a group of women keeps bees and sells the honey. There they find safety, support and kinship.(variety) The Black Mary, a carved driftwood statue, provides solace and a center for their faith. The bee farm is a successful business and the honey, the best around. (achesonwalsh) A tweet from the Atlantic Theater tells us that “honey bees are just like us. They need social support to survive.”
The singers, a group made up largely of African-American women, have all experienced pain(cititour) in their lives and find solace in their community and their faith. They sing solos, duets and sometimes choruses, with brilliant vocal and instrumental arrangements. The instruments are acoustical, not electronic, but the sound is electrifying. Every character sings and they are all great. This is a true ensemble piece. The dance is choreographed by Chris Walker in moves reminiscent of Alvin Ailey.There is a mystery of sorts that is eventually solved and a bi-racial romance that threatens the lives of the young people..(timessquarechronicles) But throughout the play, the narrative progresses through the music and that is what you take away. The music is by Duncan Sheik, the lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, the book by Lynn Nottage and the direction by Sam Gold.
The Secret Life of Bees is on stage at the Atlantic Theater Company, originally established by David Mamet and William H. Macy 30 years ago. It is a gorgeous little theater on 20th Street between 8th and 9th avenues. (cwbarchitects) You can see and hear from every seat and the prices are reasonable for such a large show. We paid $116 per ticket but there is a daily allotment of $25 tickets by lottery. The show has been extended twice already and has found a devoted audience. It is now slated to close on July 21. DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW. Btw, The Bands Visit started here and then moved uptown. Maybe this show will too.