Brandon Hernandez has always been excited about theater. So when the Cathedral sophomore heard about the play “Buzz” that his school theater department was performing for area elementary schools, he said he was “head over heels” interested in auditioning.
The play tells the story of Benny Bee, a young bee who buzzes differently than the other bees in the hive. Throughout the play, Benny learns how to communicate in a way that works for her.
Hernandez, who has been in three shows at Cathedral, landed the role of Dr. Burt Bumbler, a scientist and right hand to the Queen.
“The Queen likes Bumbler, but Bumbler is a man of science, so he distances himself and quite often changes the subject,” Hernandez explained. “My major part in the show is stumbling across Benny while I’m out doing research and I convince her to go back to the hive after she runs away.”
The musical is filled with upbeat songs and show-stopping moves, including a scene where Hernandez flips Benny Bee, played by sophomore Ellie Botz, into the air.
A chance to educate
Cathedral’s theater teacher, Adam Sahli, heard about the “Buzz” play that was co-written in 2011 by his former college classmate, Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha. She worked on the play with her sister, Michelle, who has a son on the autistic spectrum.
“One of the things I have been committed to is finding new works,” he said. “But it has also been to look at subjects that are difficult or not being talked about. We are an educational theater so if we are not teaching, we are not doing our job.”
That is one of the reasons Sahli wanted to take the show consisting of 10 actors and a traveling stage crew of eight on the road.
The show, which is completely student-driven including its director, senior Tabetha Durdall, opened at Prince of Peace School in St. Cloud with additional shows at All Saints Academy in St. Cloud and in St. Joseph, St. Mary, Help of Christians School in St. Augusta, St. Katharine Drexel School in St. Cloud and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School in St. Cloud.
Kelly Kirks, principal of St. Mary, Help of Christians School, appreciated the message the play brought to her students, a message she said they try to communicate regularly.
“We strive to celebrate each child and their abilities; we also talk a lot about inclusion and acceptance,” she said. “Teachers shared with me that the play captured a focus on gifts versus challenges, which in turn they discussed with their classrooms following the play. We are very appreciative to CHS for the collaborative opportunity.”
‘Bee’ the best you can ‘bee’
Hernandez said he hopes the audience will learn that even though everyone is completely different in their own special way, they can do anything if they work hard, try their best and believe in themselves.
“The most important message of the play is that everyone has the ability to be great, but it doesn’t come easy and the path isn’t set. There are many obstacles in life; it’s about getting over them which is actually living,” he said.
“No one should feel like they aren’t good enough or not strong enough, fast enough, smart enough,” he added. “Strength is a mindset. If you believe you can do something, you have to try your hardest, be the best you can be, and stick with it. That’s true strength.”