Better Known as BEE
A Musical
Written by David Mitchell, Peter Thorburn & Ian Dickson
Music by Tony Rees

A musical celebration of the life and times of one of Australia’s true eccentrics,
Beatrice Miles, better known as “Bee”

  1. Brass Razoo
  2. What is Love?
  3. Flotsam & Jetsam
  4. Just Watch Me!

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A poll published in a national paper during World War Two declared her the best known Australian, eclipsing even the then Prime Minister, John Curtin. An extraordinary figure who by her outrageous personality, philosophy and physical appearance became a landmark in a city which was changing from a provincial town into a cosmopolitan but de-humanised metropolis.

Bee Miles had the courage to stand against authority. She broke away from a repressive North Shore family dominated by her strict overbearing father even though in doing so, she found herself committed to a mental institution. Fortunately for her this incarceration was short-lived, and Bee became the darling of the bohemian set while a wider public began to follow her antics with affectionate amusement. They watched as she hitched rides on the running boards of cars, rode bicycles in an evening dress and bare feet and treated the public transport system as her own private source of enjoyment.

Although the slim boyish figure eventually disappeared beneath the folds of her army greatcoat and the bright assurance of her eyes became hidden by the famous tennis shade, Bee remained the same. It was Sydney that changed around her. The Bohemians moved on to respectable conformity and tended to avoid this grotesque reminder of their past. The old Sydney which rattled along at the pace of its toast-rack trams, found her exhilarating, the new streamlined model found her a pest! She became more a victim of this new aggressive society.

Bee’s indomitable spirit in the face of this change provides much of the dramatic texture of Better Known as BEE.

When she died Bee had the last laugh, as she left $150.00 for a jazz band to play at her funeral, and the musical ends with the exuberance of this funeral, celebrating ...
“One who loved Australia” and who couldn’t give a brass razoo!.