Destiny’s Child is one of Houston’s greatest treasures. The world-famous girl group—born right here in the Bayou City in 1990—gave us so much, from the Charlie’s Angels anthem to a legitimate contribution to the English language, made official by the 2004 addition of “bootylicious” to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Most of all, though, the group was the springboard for Beyoncé, who has achieved unparalleled levels of superstardom in the 15 years since the group released its fourth and final studio album, Destiny Fulfilled.
Now Houstonian Mathew Knowles—Beyoncé’s father, former manager, and the co-creator of Destiny’s Child—wants to pull back the curtain. Literally. In April Knowles announced he was developing Survivor: The Destiny’s Child Musical with local theater-industry veteran Je’Caryous Johnson.
So far it’s shaping up to be a Making the Band–style production told from Knowles’s perspective. While it’s unclear whether any of the former members are involved with—or gave their approval to—the musical, Knowles has promised “complete transparency” in recounting the group’s legacy, including personal and professional relationships and challenges legal and familial.
“It’s a unique and inspiring story that will fearlessly tackle hard truths while bringing both vindication and healing to all who lived it,” Johnson said in the press release announcing the production, which is set for a Houston premiere next spring, with plans for Broadway and, eventually, its own world tour.
We suspect Knowles—“the mastermind” behind the group, per the release, who sacrificed everything to help its members achieve their dreams—will turn out to be the titular survivor of this story. That’s all fine and well, but we do hope other angles are explored on stage. Here’s what we’re most excited to (hopefully) witness on opening night:
Second only to the music are the enduring looks worn by Destiny’s Child—matching sartorial miracles of the late ’90s and early-aughts achieved mostly by Beyoncé’s mom, Tina Knowles, and mostly by hand. The standout ensembles were worn by the group’s best recognized (and longest-lasting) lineup as a trio: Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams. Miss Tina concocted coordinates for the ages, from one-of-a-kind glittering gowns to a midriff-baring take on the Boy Scouts uniform, launching a thousand pink camo sets and her own design career along the way.
At its core this is a Houston story, and real-life locations are ripe for theatrical interpretations—especially when this thing goes on the road. We’re dying to see staged versions of the landmarks central to the group’s legacy, such as Headliners Salon (Miss Tina’s Montrose hair parlor, where the group would run routines and sometimes collect tips from customers) and Hermann Park, site of Mathew Knowles’s grueling “boot camps.”
Knowles and Johnson both allude to the “ups and downs” of the Destiny’s Child story, and we’re hoping they really lean into that. Decades later there are plenty of lingering juicy questions: Did early members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson really leave the group on their own volition, as Beyoncé suggested (she also once called her former bandmates “bad seeds”), or were they forced out, as they countered? Why did Beyoncé cut professional ties with her father in 2011? We want answers!
Our kingdom for dramatic portrayals of legendary Destiny’s Child moments, especially the group’s 2000 appearance on Cribs. The episode, which sees the trio take MTV cameras on a guided tour of the Knowles family’s former Houston home, has since found new life on the internet, where it’s spawned minute-by-minute recaps of endearing scenes, including Beyoncé collapsing on a sea of floor pillows in her ultra-aughts bedroom and a guest appearance by baby Solange, who apparently lives in the garage.
Speaking of, we hope this production includes Solange. Back then she may have been just a girl growing up in her big sister’s shadow, but she was soon standing in for Kelly on tour after the singer broke her toes (ouch). Today, of course, Solange is a superstar in her own right. Perhaps there’s even enough fodder here for a musical sequel?
The unsung hero
Do you remember Michelle’s debut solo project, the gospel-chart-topping Heart to Yours? Could you pick her out of a lineup? We think not, and that’s a shame. It’s time the world learned more about Michelle and the role she played in completing the Destiny’s Child trifecta. Could this production be the vehicle for long-awaited justice? Time will tell.