The Secret Life of Bees
Closed 2h 30m
The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees NYC Reviews and Tickets

(181 Reviews)
Members say
Great singing, Absorbing, Entertaining, Relevant, Great acting

About the Show

Based on the best-selling novel by Sue Monk Kidd, Atlantic's world premiere musical comes from the creative team that brought you "Sweat," "Spring Awakening," "Working," and "Fun Home."

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Member Reviews (181)

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963 Reviews | 338 Followers
Intense, Long, Relevant, Great singing, Absorbing

See it if you like dark subj matter musicals. Here, trauma pervades, altho moments of joy. Talented cast belts out gd songs (music/lyrics). Barebones.

Don't see it if you need a big prodn or dislike civil rts. Or you dislike idol worship of Mary statue, drenched in honey. Or you dislike heavy mic'ing. Read more

942 Reviews | 225 Followers
Edgy, Resonant, Fluffy, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if You want a show that has god acting with nice singing. Costumes were terrific. If you like smaller staged productions.

Don't see it if If you want a consistent, good book. If you would rather see a bigger production with a really great songs.

507 Reviews | 1867 Followers
Powerful, Delightful, Intelligent, Great singing

See it if You want to see a talented cast perform at a high level in a new show. Music was beautiful and varied. Staging simple yet effective.

Don't see it if You prefer elaborate musicals.

703 Reviews | 213 Followers
Melodramatic, Great music, Absorbing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if Powerful harmonic driving vocals with original soul, R&B, and rock/pop tunes. Large onstage band. Melodramatic civil rights story.

Don't see it if You want the story to be more believable. I guess we can assume the Virgin Mary statue dripping with honey came to the rescue.

677 Reviews | 186 Followers
Maudlin, Resonant, Contrived, Great singing, Ambitious

See it if u want to see the powerhouse team of Sheik, Nottage, Gold & LaChanze turn Kidd's novel into a disarming, feel-good (!) Civil Rights musical.

Don't see it if you expect the heft, depth & gravitas that the subject matter would suggest; u don't fancy a sugar-coated, honey-sweet musical about racism. Read more

687 Reviews | 113 Followers
Great singing, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Slow, Disappointing

See it if Ravishing score by Sheik & Birkenhead dominates this cult novel adapt Gold's simple direction & lush production values enhance gifted cast

Don't see it if It's Nottage's adapt that deflates the musical After a slow exposition, a fragmentation settles in w/drama bouncing in different directions

612 Reviews | 269 Followers
Gorgeous musical tone poem & the chance to hear glorious lachanze; but underlying story is far-fetched

See it if ethereal evocation of utopian cult of black women beekeepers; hypnotic music performed by troupe of super-talented singers

Don't see it if meh fairy tale: "magic negroes" come 2 aid of white girl fleeing abusive father; civil rts incidents add little; songs need more variety

474 Reviews | 714 Followers
Resonant, Important, Great writing, Great singing, Great acting

See it if you’re interested in a poignant show about race, or are looking for a good cry or to have your spirit lifted. The performances are great!

Don't see it if you’re looking for escapist entertainment; you’d rather watch something light that doesn’t remind you of our country’s recent dark history.

Critic Reviews (27)

The New York Times
June 13th, 2019

"The problem isn’t the added songs. The score, by Duncan Sheik and Susan Birkenhead, is in fact quite beautiful...What’s more, the songs are sung gorgeously by a cast that’s equally powerful in solo numbers and ensembles. The problem is what the songs are added to, and how much had to be cut to make room for them...The absence of context is not ameliorated by Mr. Gold’s staging, which seems to scrape away all novelistic trappings as if they were ostentatious."
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Time Out New York
June 13th, 2019

"'The Secret Life of Bees' turns out to be all buzz and no sting...It leaves some of the city’s best voices without much to sing about...Their vocals are glorious but the show doesn’t seem to know what story it is telling, or how to tell it...One gets the sense that everyone involved is trying to avoid the suggestion that comes through in the show’s final image."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
June 13th, 2019

"Musical theater brings out all that’s effective about 'The Secret Life of Bees' while dexterously downplaying its less convincing elements...It’s always heartening to encounter a production that truly feels like a fruitful collaboration and whose various team members are all joyfully pulling their weight. Nottage and Birkenhead have shaped and sharpened Kidd’s story into a streamlined, sensitive play, and Sheik’s music is rich and rousing."
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The Hollywood Reporter
June 13th, 2019

"Some of the most gorgeous female-forward musical storytelling seen on a New York stage in some time...The show features a book by two-time Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage, a warm, expansively melodic score by Duncan Sheik, descriptive lyrics by Broadway veteran Susan Birkenhead and sensitive direction by Sam Gold...To say that this richly expressive dramatic piece is a workshop or two away from realizing its full potential should not be misread as a dismissal."
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June 13th, 2019

"The feeling of empowerment, uplift and solidarity could come across in lesser hands as maudlin, naive or simplistic. But this creative team and ensemble of performers create characters that are fresh, a credible story that is transformative and a spiritual center — enriched by a glorious and haunting score by Duncan Sheik and Susan Birkenhead — that would make even a non-believer sing 'Hallelujah!'"
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The Observer
June 13th, 2019

"While this handsomely produced and sensitively acted musical—with a book by Lynn Nottage, lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, and a rich, soulful score by Duncan Sheik—has flashes of religious ecstasy, young love and forgiveness, mostly it produces too much treacle and too little sting...For all the musical pleasure in Sheik and Birkenhead’s songs, they don’t mesh closely enough with Nottage’s book to feel like they’re pushing the story or emotional terrain along."
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AM New York
June 13th, 2019

"A beautiful and captivating adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s 2001 coming-of-age novel...Unlike so many other musicals that are adapted without inspiration or invention, 'The Secret Life of Bees' is intently focused around having its characters open up and reveal themselves in songs and dialogue. Even if some of the plotting is choppy, the score and book demonstrate a superb level of craftsmanship, sensitivity to character and dramatic integration."
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June 13th, 2019

"The bestselling novel is getting a powerful and heartfelt adaptation...Director Sam Gold has assembled a bravura multi-talented company — many of them doubling and tripling as musicians, actors, and singers...As much as I was moved by this production and Sheik’s music is his best since 'Spring Awakening,' the book still needs some work. One more draft and I predict it will have a long sweet life."
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