Akeelah and the Bee is an inspiring story to be performed live on stage at Virginia Rep’s Children’s Theatre starting Friday, September 29, 2017 to open its 17/18 Children’s Theatre season. Based on the 2006 film starring Keke Palmer and Laurence Fishburne, the play follows the journey of 11-year-old Akeelah as she travels from her tough neighborhood in the southside of Chicago all the way to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Cheryl L. West ’s adaptation of the film by Doug Atchison is an uplifting story that will not only resonate with kids but the entire family.
When Akeelah participates in her school’s spelling bee, she surprises herself and her classmates when she wins. She is then encouraged to seek special coaching from an English professor, Dr. Larabee, who becomes Akeelah’s mentor. Dr. Larabee helps Akeelah reach her full potential as a spelling prodigy, but it is because of Akeelah’s own courage and determination that she surpasses her expectations, as well as her more privileged and experienced competitors. Akeelah does not let her surroundings or her unsupportive family and friends stifle her endeavors and ambition. As she progresses, she becomes a symbol of pride for her family and her community.
Akeelah’s story contains important lessons for children as well as parents. Despite the daily challenges she experiences, Akeelah’s talent and passion for words are undeniable. Akeelah proves that with courage, determination, and by believing in yourself, you can overcome your circumstances and the obstacles you face along the way.
Even if you’ve already read the book or seen the movie, this heartwarming story is worth experiencing again with Virginia Rep’s talented cast and creative team. As one critic stated about the play’s impact on audiences: “As Akeelah makes clear, children have potential not just for personal actualization, but also to heal a community. In her rugged, weary community, Akeelah embodies both brilliance and balm.” -Star Tribune
The production stars Abigail Cook-Robinson, a 5th grader at Park Ridge Elementary School, as Akeelah, in her Virginia Rep debut. William Anderson, who has starred in several past Virginia Rep productions, co-stars as Dr. Larabee. The production also features many local rising stars, including Taylor Cannon, Samantha Easter, Anna Jackson, Zora Johnson, Jamar Jones, Jordan Pearson, Ryan Poquis and Rowan Sharma.
Akeelah and the Bee runs approximately 2 hours with 1 intermission and will be performed at The Children’s Theatre at Willow Lawn (1601 Willow Lawn Drive) beginning September 29, 2017 until November 5, 2017. Suggested for ages 7 and up. Directed by Audra Honaker.