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Time-traveling bees take students on a quest to save the planet in new Arsht musical

Headshot of a woman smiling
Courtesy of Charles R DrewK8 Center
Ashlee K. Thomas is a local playwright. Her musical for kids is called “Busy Bees’ Great Adventure” was commissioned by the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Arts Education Program to teach Miami-Dade County students about environmental conservation.

Ashlee K. Thomas needed a way to connect the arts and sciences for her drama students in a way that traditional plays couldn’t.

The answer, it turned out, was bees — time-traveling bees, to be exact.

Ashlee wrote a play where time-traveling bees performed hip-hop on a quest to save the planet. The folks at the Adrienne Arsht Center thought it was a pretty good idea.

About 30,000 Miami-Dade elementary school students will see Ashlee’s first commissioned play, The Busy Bees’ Great Adventure at the Arsht Center. It’s part of the center’s Learning Through The Arts Program.

The story follows four honey bees on a quest to learn about the threats to the environment, including their own possible extinction. The Arsht and Miami Dade public schools worked together to build a whole curriculum around the show.

Jairo Ontiveros is the Arsht Center’s Vice President of Arts Education and Community Engagement.
Justin Namon
Jairo Ontiveros is the Arsht Center’s Vice President of Arts Education and Community Engagement.

It’s a way to teach environmental literacy to kids growing up in one of the most sensitive areas in the country.

Plus, for a lot of the kids, it’ll be their first exposure to live theater. Thomas worked with Jairo Ontiveros at the Arsht to bring this musical to life.

On the Oct. 10 episode of Sundial, we spoke to Thomas and Ointiveros about making art with a purpose.

On Sundial's previous episode, we spoke with Stéphane Denève, the artistic director of the New World Symphony. He told us about his journey with music, which started with hiding in the back of a chapel. Also, we'll take a look at what we can expect from the orchestra this season.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Carlos Frías is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Elisa Baena is a former associate producer for Sundial.