Already closed | 2h 30m | Chelsea

The Secret Life of Bees

From 179 member  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." More…

South Carolina, 1964. Lily Owens, a restless white teenager, struggles with her merciless father and the haunting memory of her mother’s death. When Rosaleen, her black caregiver, is beaten and jailed for asserting her right to vote, Lily’s rebellious spirit is ignited. She and Rosaleen escape on an adventure where they are taken in by a trio of black beekeeping sisters. While Lily tries to unlock the secrets of her past, she and Rosaleen find solace in the mesmerizing world of bees and spirituality in this extraordinary tale of awakening, fellowship, and healing. 

Member Reviews (179)


Great singing, Absorbing, Entertaining, Relevant, Great acting
Avg Score

During previews
Terrific music. terrific voices. good story.

See it if You love musicals with really good music!

Don't see it if You don't like new musicals.

During previews
Great music, Relevant, Ambitious, Intelligent, Great singing

See it if you are a fan of Duncan Sheik, Lynn Nottage, Sam Gold and/or Sue Monk Kidd's novel and you like musicals that address important issues.

Don't see it if you are looking for a breezy mindless musical with fancy production values.

Also The show has second act problems when it rushes to tie up all the loos... Read more Read less

During previews
Wonderful rhythms, Great singing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if U enjoy toe tapping music, African and Caribbean rhythms; powerful women embracing each other and changing their world; happy endings

Don't see it if you dislike any of the above, and musicals in general; you are infuriated by concepts of racial hatred and parental abuse on stage.

During previews
Southern gospel folk music with african beat, Strong singing voices, Great casting, Sparse stage setting, Still relevant

See it if Lyrical telling a coming of age story w/ racial tension as Civil & Voting Rights Acts were signed. Notes of mysterious spiritual compassion.

Don't see it if The plot skims over a whole novel of material and doesn’t provide in-depth understanding of the characters or their interactions.

During previews
Resonant, Ambitious, Relevant, Great singing, Absorbing

See it if you enjoy beautiful singing, Civil Rights era story still relevant today, and powerful performances. Saycon Sengbloh standout as Rosaleen.

Don't see it if you're not interested in themes of racism, faith, coming of age, and loss/grief.

During previews
Resonant, Thought-provoking, Great singing, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if you enjoy a dramatization of a great novel that has been made into a wonderful musical

Don't see it if Slightly dated stories that hearken back to the days after the civil rights bill was signed do not appeal to you

During previews
Emotional, Relevant, Absorbing, Great singing, Great music

See it if you want to see a beautifully realized show with strong female characters, a great cast, great music & makes you really care.

Don't see it if you want elaborate staging; can't handle scenes of brutality; not interested 1964 civil rights struggles.

Also Though the staging is minimal, it's creative & effective. Every cast m... Read more Read less

During previews
Delightful, Great music, Great singing, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if Touching story set in South in 1964. Some disturbing racism issues but also uplifting story of the power of female community.

Don't see it if Don't want strong female characters, spirituality (especially non-conventional); don't like minimalist staging or orchestra on the stage

Also Great performances.... Read more Read less

During previews
Resonant, Great singing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if The book and film were wonderful. This musical has moving moments that are very special.

Don't see it if Some of the music needs work as well as, rework of a feel scenes.

During previews
Entertaining, Absorbing, Profound, Great singing, Great writing

See it if loved the book, the musical does it justice (some changes in plot). beautiful overall with great music, peformances, and heart

Don't see it if not exactly true to the book (a major plot change). a small ensemble driven show may not be for all

During previews
Score is just so-so, Very simple staging, Sound design needs work, Terrific performances

See it if You're a fan of the book and want to see how it plays as a musical; if you're a fan of LaChanze. She does great work here.

Don't see it if You're not up for an edgy musical showing unpleasant things; if you don't like depictions of violence onstage.

Also Many things make a play or musical satisfying, but one thing is the jo... Read more Read less

During previews
Disappointing, Based on banal novel, Poor sound design, Cliched, Great singing

See it if you loved the book, enjoy Southern stories and song-lines, and can tolerate over-loud sound.

Don't see it if you have hearing issues or don't want to see a cliched race-based story line.

Also I saw this at Bard a couple of summers ago and was absolutely swept aw... Read more Read less

During previews
Overrated, Ambitious, Great singing

See it if you're a fan of the book; you want a fairly standard story about the Civil Rights era South; you like good singing from a great cast

Don't see it if you want a Southern race-oriented story in which a white girl *isn't* the center of the narrative; you want complete adherence to the book

Also This was a good show, and I can see it doing quite well. The book need... Read more Read less

During previews
Cliched, Great singing, Confusing, Enchanting

See it if Wonderful music, especially when the songs aren't expected to the move the plot forward. Great acting from the whole cast, including Teeter.

Don't see it if (never read the book but) I found the plot hamfisted, boring, and heavily reliant on the tired trope of the "magical negro". Lily's annoying

During previews
Absorbing, Refreshing, Resonant, Relevant, Great singing

See it if Black.Strong.Beautiful.Women. Hits right at the heart, via the brain. Incredible ensemble. Duncan Sheik.

Don't see it if See it and support new musicals.

During previews
Absorbing, Moving story, Beautiful music, Great singing

See it if to see a well constructed show where all parts work together--good acting, singing, music, story. I was invested in it from the beginning.

Don't see it if you don't like smaller or more minimalist staging. If you don't want to be see horrible racial injustice and abuse.

During previews
Quirky, Enchanting, Absorbing

See it if So I love the book. And it sticks to the basics well. I didn't feel like they cheated me out of the story.

Don't see it if I think some of the songs need some work. Also, while this was not my personal issue, apparently lots of dripping honey can trigger a gag.

During previews
Masterful, Great staging, Great singing, Entertaining, Enchanting

See it if You want to see an outstanding new musical with a beautiful score sung by a supremely talented cast.

Don't see it if You don’t like musicals. Cannot think of another reason not to see this.

During previews
Emotional, Relevant, Must see, Great singing, Absorbing

See it if You want to see Broadway caliber talent in a more intimate setting. This is the evolution of Duncan Sheik's music.

Don't see it if You're uncomfortable with civil rights matters or want something lighthearted.

During previews
Great staging, Great singing

See it if you love church vocals and/or effective barebones staging.

Don't see it if you know and hate this story.

Also the Atlantic subscriber audience at my matinee was ASLEEP. Dear Atlant... Read more Read less

During previews
Moving story, Great singing, Wonderful songs

See it if Very entertaining story of coming of age in Mississippi in the 60's. Powerful tale of faith and feminism.

Don't see it if If stories dealing with child abuse and racism make you uncomfortable.

Also Spoiler alert: in many ways the play is an oversimplification of the b... Read more Read less

During previews
Intense, Romantic, Relevant, Great singing, Absorbing

See it if you want a personal experience both brutal and uplifting. Good and bad are clearly depicted here but you are caught up in the music and soul

Don't see it if you do not want to experience the ugliness of people or the power of belief.This is about human connection in the face of prejudice and fear

During previews
Beautiful, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great singing

See it if you'd enjoy seeing this classic work set to music by an outstanding team and sung by some serious vocal talent; this show is full of heart.

Don't see it if you dislike plays about race or can't bear for anyone to touch the classic story, although this is truly a loving adaptation

Also Saw this is previews with a talk back from the outstanding creative te... Read more Read less

During previews
Disappointing, Ambitious, Great staging, Great singing, Great acting

See it if You want to see some spectacular performances.

Don't see it if You want a show that translates well from the bestseller novel.

During previews
If it wasn't so loud . . .

See it if you want to hear some wonderful voices belt out songs with an African and jazz beat and feel hopeful and teary when the show is over.

Don't see it if loud music bothers you or if you have no interest in the plight of blacks in the South in the '60s or if you think black lives don't matter.

Also People around me were wiping their eyes when the show was over. In res... Read more Read less

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 m...
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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...
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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 the...
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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 direct...
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Cast & Creatives (5)