The Secret Life of Bees
book by Lynn Nottage
music by Duncan Sheik
lyrics by Susan Birkenhead
based on the novel by Sue Monk Kidd
directed by Sam Gold
Linda Gross Theater
May 12 – July 21, 2019
A world premiere musical written by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage (Sweat), with music by Tony and Grammy Award winner Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening), lyrics by two-time Tony nominee and Drama Desk winner Susan Birkenhead (Jelly’s Last Jam), and directed by Tony winner Sam Gold (Fun Home); based on the best-selling novel by Sue Monk Kidd.
A world premiere musical from a powerhouse creative team that brought you some of the greatest works of the past three decades: Sweat, Spring Awakening, Working and Fun Home.
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.
“This is a lush & ardent work. Sheik again proves himself an adroit & flexible composer with a gift for ballads that seem to reach straight into your chest. Easily his best work since Spring Awakening .”
Alexis Soloski, The Guardian
“The Secret Life of Bees might have found its ideal form. It feels like an extended act of worship, a storytelling ritual less concerned with full mimesis than with communion & transcendence. It feels lifted & liberated.”
Sara Holdren, New York Magazine
“Sheik’s music is his best since Spring Awakening : rich & plangent, with contextual nods to gospel, pop and R&B. The songs are sung gorgeously by a cast that’s equally powerful in solo numbers & ensembles.”
Jesse Green, The New York Times
“A masterful, beautiful & captivating musical with a superb level of craftsmanship.”
Matt Windman, AMNY
“Some of the most gorgeous female-forward musical storytelling seen on a New York stage. The first-rate ensemble, dominated by women of color, sings the score with transporting spirit.”
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
“This is one of those shows that sticks with you. Watching it is a little like going to a religious service — it gives you faith that the world could be a better place.”
Barbara Schuler, Newsday
“A glorious musical of faith, hope & honey! A picture of feminine strength, belonging & love. It makes for a richly rewarding hive — & show — that’s golden ambrosia.”
Frank Rizzo, Variety
“The bestselling novel is getting a powerful & heartfelt adaptation. I was moved by this production.”
Roma Torre, NY1
Cast & Creative
Photos by Ahron R. Foster
Atlantic’s study guides take educators and their students deeper into the story. Each guide provides a variety of discussion starters, activities, and a relevant contextual basis to immerse students in the world of the play before attending the show.