BUZZ in the NEWS...
FROM CAMP BROADWAY:
“BUZZ, Son of a Bee”- A New Show as Sweet as Honey!Posted by Hallie Williams on Thursday, March 23, 2017 ·
Spring is here! With this new season, comes a special new announcement: To help keep our environment healthy, Camp Broadway is excited to be teaming up with the Broadway Green Alliance in order to encourage theater-loving kids to be more green. Read more about our partnership here!
Soon, the grass will be greener than ever, the birds will be singing, and the bees will be buzzing… hopefully.
In recent years, the population of honeybees has been quickly declining– to the point where environmentalists fear extinction.Not only do bees provide us with honey, but they (along with many other pollinators) also pollinate the plants around us. This means that they help our ecosystem thrive! With the concerns surrounding this current epidemic, a new musical with an exciting mission has emerged:
BUZZ, Son of a Bee: An Actor’s Life For Me!This original show has been in production in New York City, and aims to knit social change with theater. ”BUZZ is a new musical comedy that joyfully weaves together the lives of eight individuals. As they quest to find their home in the Theatre, they stumble upon an unusual catalyst…bees! A story full of heart, perfect for audiences of all ages, BUZZ, Son of a Bee gently reminds us that a life in the theatre can sting you, but can also be as sweet as honey.” In addition to educating others on the importance of pollinators, BUZZ will also donate money to a different apiary / bee advocacy organization after each performance.
I was lucky to get the opportunity to interview Ariana Johns, the producer and lyricist of the show, who gave me the inside scoop on the show and its efforts to help raise awareness for our buzzing buddies.
You’ve been an essential role to the production team since the very beginnings of BUZZ, Son of a Bee. What has it been like to see this show from the roots to the stage? How has it been to see your lyrics come to life?
JOHNS: “It’s been absolutely magical. Working with Darryl Curry (the composer) has been a delight. From the very beginning, our energies and musical sensibilities merged seamlessly. I’ve written several plays and musical comedy revues that have been produced, but this has been a unique experience, in many ways. And each incarnation throughout the development has been a learning experience, sure, but also a true collaboration–with everyone involved. We have such a wonderful cast, crew and creative team. There’s a strict ‘no-divas’ rule when we bring someone new on board, so there’s been minimal drama and lots of fun–over the three+ years of development, we’ve retained most of our cast, largely, I think, because it is such a joy to work together.”
What has been your favorite part of working on this musical?
JOHNS: “I want to say all of it, but actually, I would love to pass the ‘Producer’ hat to someone else and just concentrate on the creative aspect…the writing of the songs has been special, and hearing them sung by such talented performers is amazing, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that being on stage myself (as Carla) wasn’t perhaps my favorite thing…sharing my own words in song with audiences and getting such great response is thrilling. But also, the incredibly special gift of being able to create BUZZ with my parents–we’re all actors and writers, with lots of professional experience, but this is the first time that we’ve all been involved in the same project (my dad is Andrew Johns, the book writer and director, and Evangeline Johns, my mom, practically steals the show as Cora).”
This musical has such a unique theme and morphs social justice into theater. Was there anything in particular about BUZZ, Son of a Bee that initially sparked your interest to work on this progressive show? What is it about BUZZ that sets it apart from other musicals currently onstage?
JOHNS: “We have bees!! There’s a lot about BUZZ that is rooted in traditional musical theatre (which I love)…but as we progressed, the idea that we could create a piece that has social relevance with its focus on environmental issues–and to do it with laughter and music–that became a second heart to the piece itself. I’m not fond of being lectured to–who is? But with BUZZ, I think that the message of how fundamental bees are in the chain of life–as Einstein said, ‘When the bees go, mankind will follow in four years’–we get that message across with a spoonful of honey.”
And OF COURSE, we couldn’t help but discuss some facts about bees!
What would a world without bees be like?
JOHNS: “Actually, all pollinators are crucial–butterflies, bats and hummingbirds being some other notable examples–and BUZZ supports organizations dedicated to their survival as well. My hope is that we can have productions across the country and beyond, and engage in a grass-roots manner with local communities to spread the message that human life is not exclusive to other life–we are absolutely dependent on our fellow living beings to survive. If plants don’t get pollinated, we don’t have food. Bee populations have been declining due to many factors, but a chief one is the use of certain pesticides–ones that are outdated but still widely used, although they’ve been banned in certain countries. There will be lots of information–pamphlets, brochures, and knowledgeable people–at our shows, and I’ll be adding more links on our website.”
Do you have any interesting bee facts that most people don’t know?
JOHNS: “The variety of honey types is dazzling–depending on what plants the bees pollinate, the pollen in the honey will reflect the character of the plant, and raw honey has long been prized for its medicinal and health benefits. Unfortunately, many of the mass-marketed brands are sourced from China, and the pollen is completely removed, along with the associated health benefits. We make sure that the apiaries that we support are ethical and retain the healthy pollen–and you can taste the difference!”
Want to help the bees at home? Here’s Ariana’s advice!
JOHNS: “Lately, saving the bees has become a popular cause. There are many resources that can instruct you on planting bee-friendly gardens, and other helpful things you can do. Planet Bee Foundation has a lot on their site, as does Xerces Society, and many others– we list several links on our site, as well as petitions you can sign…many organizations let you virtually adopt a hive, which is helpful for city-dwellers like myself.”
Looking to celebrate the coming of spring? Check out the show! BUZZ, Son of a Bee: An Actor’s Life For Me will be holding performances March 23rd – April 2nd at the Sargent Theatre! A special thank you to Eric Gelb and Ariana Johns for coordinating and participating in this interview!
Excerpts from an Interview with playwright Ariana Johns in AXS Mar 10, 2016
By: Meagan Meehan (full article here)
Ariana Johns is the lyricist for the play "Buzz...Son of a Bee" which centers on the life of actors. Ariana Johns is a lyricist who also writes plays which have been performed all across the United States. Her works titled “Moonbite...a montage of radiant lunacy” and solo-show “Vampingo...a comedy with bite” have been featured at Fringe Festivals in New York and Ariana--who is also an actress--has appeared in plays and comedy shows across the nation...
One of Ariana's most recent projects is called “Buzz…Son Of A Bee” which is a musical comedy about the life of actors. Ariana was the lyricist of this piece. This play won the Golden Fleece Ltd. 22nd Annual Award for Music Theatre in progress and it was also selected for readings at The Actor’s Temple, The Dramatists Guild and the St. Clements Theatre. It was also produced at The Woodstock Fringe and, in 2016, a concert version was sponsored by A.C.A. Galleries in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City.
Ariana recently performed her new show--a cabaret--titled "A Dreamer's Guide to Love in the Galaxy", at Don't Tell Mama NYC. Recently, Ariana spoke to AXS about her experiences working in the theater industry:
AXS: How did you come up with the idea for your play, “BUZZ Son of a Bee”?
A.J.: BUZZ came about first through the Woodstock Fringe Playwrights Unit, run by Wallace Norman. It’s been a creative home for me for the past five years, and I’ve been honored at the Woodstock Fringe Festival as Playwright in Residence (2011) and Associate Producer (2012). I brought in a piece to the workshop that my father, the playwright Andrew Johns, and I had co-written several years ago, called ‘I Got the Stagestruck Blues on a Möbius Trip’. Over the course of the workshop, most of the existing material was cut, and when Lou Rodgers of Golden Fleece Productions asked for some original songs to feature in a workshop she was producing, I asked the composer Darryl Curry if he’d like to collaborate, and soon, ‘BUZZ, Son of a Bee…an actor’s life for me’ was born! We subsequently received the 2014 Golden Fleece Award for Musical Theatre in Progress. The book for the musical was delegated to Andrew Johns, I took over the lyrics, and Darryl Curry continues as the composer. It’s kind of a love letter to the
Stage, the story of eight people who find their home in the Theatre. But more than that, it’s a vibrant, fast-paced and extremely funny musical, with lots of catchy songs. It’s a story of the Magic of Imagination. And there’s a subplot about bees, ultimately revealing a tale of the joy of creativity--
“Oh it’s a pinball life,
Each rainbow has its price
If you get snake eyes
Be like a phoenix and rise
Life’s a big launching pad
And all the best people are mad”
And of course, “honey is sweeter than money…”
AXS: To date, what has been the most rewarding part of working in the theater industry?
A.J.: Trite as it may seem at first, to me there is no bigger joy or raison d’être than creating Art. Whether it’s writing, acting, singing—or even producing (a creative act in its own way), that’s the sweet spot in life. It has always been this way for me—I was born into a family of actor/writers. My parents and I have supported each other along our creative journeys, and BUZZ marks the first time that the three of us have worked together on a project, with Andrew being the Book writer and my mother, Evangeline Johns portraying ‘Cora’ in the piece. I’m also in the cast, portraying ‘Carla’, as well as writing lyrics and producing. I have written short stories and lyrics my whole life, and I earned my living for many years writing and performing comedy. We’re also working with some grass roots Bee Conservation organizations (Planet Bee Foundation, Pollinator Partnership), and we’re looking to partner with a local honey producer to raise awareness about the importance of bees and other pollinators.
Photo Flash: BUZZ, SON OF A BEE...AN ACTOR'S LIFE FOR ME Continues Limited Engagement by BWW News Desk BroadwayWorld.com Mar. 30, 2017
BUZZ, Son of a Bee...an actor's life for me is an effervescent new musical comedy that joyfully weaves together the lives of eight individuals. As they quest to find their home in the Theatre, they stumble upon an unusual catalyst...bees! A story full of heart, perfect for audiences of all ages, BUZZ, Son of a Bee gently reminds us that a life in the theatre can sting you, but can also be as sweet as honey.
Check out photos from the limited engagement below!
The cast has supported several bee conservation groups and apiaries, and our audience has harvested some delicious local honey, with more still to come...and we've donated tickets via VetTix, to support our Veterans, who have been terrific audience members. The feedback has been wonderful, with nearly full houses, and we're so looking forward to our (not) final four shows! Now through April 2nd at the Sargent Theatre, 314 W. 54th St. Find out more at www.buzzsonofabee.com and get tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com. Saving bees one song at a time (and actors too).
Photo credit: Eric Bandiero