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Little Rock Opens at Sheen Center

The new play tells the story of the Little Rock Nine, the first black students to attend the formerly segregated Little Rock Central High School.

Harvey Butler, Ernest Green, and Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj celebrate opening night of Little Rock at the Sheen Center.
(© Tricia Baron)

The New York premiere of Little Rock, a new play written and directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, opened on Thursday, June 14 for its run through September 8 at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture.

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The cast features Rebekah Brockman (Bridge of Spies), Justin Cunningham (The Winter's Tale), Charlie Hudson III (A Raisin in the Sun), Peter O'Connor (The Flick), Ashley Robinson (A Clockwork Orange), Damian Jermaine Thompson (English Vinglish), Stephanie Umoh (Ragtime), Anita Welch (Avenue Q), and Shanice Williams (NBC's The Wiz Live) making her New York stage debut.

The creative team for Little Rock includes Darryl G. Ivey (music director), Rasean Davonte Johnson (scenic design), Leslie Bernstein (costume Design), Anshuman Bhatia (lighting design), Lindsay Jones (sound design), Wendall K. Harrington (projection design), Marshall Jones III (creative consultant), Nikkole Salter (script consultant), Joshua Shain (production manager), Robert Westley (movement choreographer), and Amy Stoller (dialect design). The production stage manager is Giles T. Horne, and Theron Alexander is the assistant stage manager.

Little Rock tells the true story of the Little Rock Nine, the first black students to attend their city's formerly segregated Little Rock Central High School three years after the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision ruled separating students based on race was unconstitutional. What began as their quest for a better education soon became a national crisis, igniting the passions of a divided country and sparking a historic fight for justice in the Jim Crow south. On the cusp of the civil rights movement, a changing world watched as these nine children from Arkansas battled for their rights, armed with only a notebook and pencil.

Little Rock received a developmental production as part of the 2011 New Works Festival at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, California. It went on to receive a production in 2014 at Passage Theatre in Trenton, New Jersey, where it won the 2015 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Ensemble.

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