The fans have spoken.
“Once I Was a Beehive” has a sequel, and it opens Wednesday in Utah theaters.
“Fans of ‘Once I Was a Beehive’ would always ask us if we were going to do a sequel and for the longest time we didn’t plan to do one but the more and more people asked the more we got to thinking how fun it could be,” director Maclain Nelson said in an email.
“Once I Was Engaged” takes place about two years after the memorable girls camp, when former youth camp leader Bree Carrington’s surprise engagement and wedding plans bring the group together again.
“Enough time had passed by that we thought an engagement story would be super fun to explore,” Nelson said. “The fans were right, it was the perfect setting to catch up with the characters.”
The new film also shows some of the girls’ history four years before the first movie in their young women group as former beehives, according to Nelson.
“It gives us a peek into who Bree really is and what makes her tick as a character,” Nelson said. “The younger cast were all incredible and we found them all through an open call. Who knows, we may even do a prequel sometime exploring a story of them as tweens.”
The sequel was a bigger production than the first film, with about three times the cast and more than 20 locations in Utah and Hawaii, according to Nelson. He said the coronavirus pandemic was a hurdle in making the movie.
“We even had a shutdown in the middle of the shoot and we stopped filming to keep everyone safe,” Nelson said. “After following all the guidelines we were able to start again and finish strong. In a way it really brought everyone together as we worked to overcome the setback.”
“Once I Was Engaged” adds to the original cast Bart Johnson of “High School Musical” as Bree’s father, Curt Carrington, and Tanner Gillman of “Studio C” as her fiance, Thys Chesterfield.
“I think people will really enjoy seeing the male perspective added to the story and it will make it more appealing to both men and women,” Nelson said. “Bart steals the show a bit and Tanner will definitely steal some hearts away.”
Lisa Valentine Clark, who plays Bree’s mother and enthusiastic young women leader Carrie Carrington, said Johnson answered the question “Who in the world is Carrie Carrington married to?” perfectly.
“He fit right in with everyone right away even though he was a ‘new’ character, and was so open and easy to work with, immediately connecting with everyone on set,” Clark said in an email. “He brought so much to his character and our scenes that it really elevated it all.”
Gillman set the perfect tone for Chesterfield, according to Clark.
“His energy is contagious and he has such an amazing acting range,” Clark said. “He is really talented and such a nice guy.”
Getting the original cast back together was “nonstop fun and laughs,” according to Nelson.
“Everyone is as close or closer than you see in the movie so we really had a blast,” Nelson said. “Being around so many amazing comedians is so fun, I don’t think I have laughed so hard in ages.”
Clark said getting together felt like a family reunion.
“We caught up right where we left off and we all felt like we were getting away with something because it was so fun,” Clark said.
The actress said she was thrilled to return to her role as Carrie Carrington and didn’t take the opportunity for granted.
“I got to play my favorite character during a really difficult time in my life and it gave me so much joy to create something so fun, that we’re really proud of, with my friends,” Clark said. “What a gift to be able to have this experience.”
Clark said she has learned her character is more relatable than she might have originally thought.
“I have a lot of love and respect for her because she gets things done with a lot of love and intensity,” Clark said. “Say what you will, but C.C. makes our lives better.”
Nelson said he hopes viewers enjoy an opportunity to return to theaters with loved ones “to laugh and party together like the good old days.”
“We are all such big fans of seeing movies on the big screen, we are so glad we could release at a time that everyone can come together and feel the energy and magic that only happens at the movie theater,” Nelson said.
The film is set to open Aug. 6 in Arizona, Idaho and Nevada, and Aug. 13 nationally. Tickets are available online.
“People need to know that seeing (‘Once I Was Engaged’) together with your friends and family in the theater is exactly what you need right now,” Clark said. “You need to connect with others and laugh. It’s exactly what we all need.”