Once again, NERDS has delivered a wonderfully poignant and hilarious musical with this semester’s performance of BEES the Musical.
Avery Fessenden played Charlotte “Charlie” Peppers, the daughter of big-time bee farmers in Honeyville. Her wonderful number “Buzzing On By” shows how she looks forward to moving on with her life by pursuing her dreams of being a detective. Though everyone questions and doubts these dreams, she becomes the newest recruit in the police department, and she’s instantly put on the big case of the missing bees. Her partner, Penelope Wright (Sam Dunlap), is abrasive and direct, a great contrast to Charlie’s gentle and optimistic demeanor. They butt heads when it comes to interrogation techniques, and their different backgrounds — Charlie from the successful agricultural side and Sam from the poorer industrial district — also act as a source of difference and tension.
However, as they are stumped from this crime, they realize that something must change in their partnership. The duets between Dunlap and Fessenden were particularly beautiful, their voices complementing each other’s wonderfully. From their first song together, “My Way or the Highway” to their song closing the first act, “Moving”, the two detectives evolve a long way, recognizing that teamwork and compromise is important when they share the same goal.
From the very beginning, the audience learns that Frank B. Napper (Perry Fiero) is the obvious criminal bee napper, an enjoyable twist of dramatic irony that made Fiero’s blatant panics when he is interrogated or suspects he’s close to being caught that much better. His “Bee Burglin’” song was catchy and amusing, as he scooped yellow ping pong balls with black stripes into a jar. His motives for stealing all the bees was simply to find his only friend, a black bee with yellow stripes, who ran away. This elicits sympathy from the audience, as well as Charlie and Penelope, who decide to not arrest him, which is unfortunate for womanizer Dustin (Sean Moore), who was framed for the crime.
This musical displayed compassion and friendship in the most humorous ways, from Chief Montana’s incompetence to Mr. Peppers’ fatherly figure. Probably the highlight of the musical was when Frank’s Bee (Dylan Beasley) emerged during “Bee-F-F (The Ballad of Frank B. Napper),” a lovely and heartwarming song that featured a beautiful fluttering and dancing human bee.
The ending romance of Charlie and Penelope was a beautiful cherry on top of overcoming differences and finding companionship. As Frank inherits Peppers Farms and is constantly surrounded by bees, and the two detectives continue to solve crime alongside each other, there’s a happy ending in Honeyville (except for Dustin, who is forgotten behind bars).