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Akeelah and the Bee Opens at Arena Stage

Charles Randolph-Wright directs the new production.

Johannah Easley (Akeelah) gets a hug from her director, Charles Randolph-Wright, at the opening night for Akeelah and the Bee at Arena Stage.
(© Cameron Whitman)

Arena Stage recently celebrated the opening night of its production of Akeelah and the Bee by Cheryl L. West. Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, performances continue in the Kreeger Theater through December 27.

Based on Doug Atchison's 2006 family film, the heartwarming drama tells the story of Akeelah, a determined young girl who overcomes numerous challenges to compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The stage version recently had its world premiere at Minneapolis' Children's Theatre Company, where it ran through October 11.

Arena Stage artistic director Molly Smith and Akeelah director Charles Randolph-Wright pose with PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill.
(© Cameron Whitman)

Leading the company as 11-year-old Akeelah is Johannah Easley, alongside James A. Williams (Radio Golf) as her coach, Dr. Larabee. The company also includes Aimee K. Bryant as Gail, Nathan Barlow as Reggie, Zaria Graham as Georgia, Greta Oglseby as Batty Ruth, Leo James as Javier/Chucky, Sean Phinney as Dylan, Molly Yeselson as Izzy/Snorting Girl/Crying Girl, Darius Dotch as J.T./DJ Rule/Judge TV Announcer, Ana Christine Evans as Trish/Horse Girl/Mohawk Girl, Shavunda Horsley as Ratchet Rhonda/Foxy Fay, and Tony Nam as Dylan's Dad/Pronouncer. Casting for the role of Drunk Willie/Principal will be announced at a later date.

The creative team for Akeelah and the Bee includes scenic designer Alexander V. Nichols, costume designer Jessica Jahn, lighting designer Michael Gilliam, sound designer Sten Severson, composer Victor Zupanc, dramaturg Elissa Adams, assistant costume designer Sarah Bahr, stage sanager Chris Schweiger, and assistant stage manager Jenny Brass.

Cast members Aimee K. Bryant and James A. Williams celebrate their opening night.
(© Cameron Whitman)

For tickets and more information, click here.

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