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Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage

Fresh off its world-premiere run in Minneapolis, Children's Theatre Company's new production about an 11-year-old spelling prodigy comes to Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. The show is adapted for the stage by veteran playwright Cheryl L. West (Arena's Pullman Porter Blues, Jar the Floor), who partners with celebrated director Charles Randolph-Wright (director of Broadway's Motown and an inaugural resident playwright with Arena Stage, where he premiered his play Love in Afghanistan). AKEELAH AND THE BEE runs now through December 27, 2015 in the Kreeger Theater, and BroadwayWorld has photos from the opening night festivites at Arena Stage below!

Based on Doug Atchison's 2006 inspirational 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. Leading the cast as Akeelah is Johannah Easley, who made a splash originating the role in Minneapolis, where her performance was hailed as "delightful and thoroughly engaging" (City Pages) and possessing "effortless naturalism and poetic economy" (Star Tribune). She stars opposite Broadway veteran James A. Williams (originated the role of Roosevelt Hicks in August Wilson's Radio Golf), who continues in his role as her exacting coach Dr. Larabee.

Also reprising their roles from Minneapolis are Aimee K. Bryant as Gail (Akeelah's mom), Nathan Barlow as Reggie (Akeelah's brother), Zaria Graham as Georgia (Akeelah's best friend) and Greta Oglseby as Batty Ruth (a neighbor), along with young actors Leo James as Javier/Chucky, Sean Phinney as Dylan and Molly Yeselson as Izzy/Snorting Girl/Crying Girl. The company also includes Darius Dotch as J.T./DJ Rule/Judge TV Announcer, Ana Christine Evans as Trish/Horse Girl/Mohawk Girl and Shavunda Horsley as Ratchet Rhonda/Foxy Fay. Tony Nam joins the company for the D.C. run as Dylan's Dad/Pronouncer.

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 Manager Chris Schweiger and Assistant Stage Manager Jenny Brass.

Photo Credit: Cameron Whitman

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Cast member Johannah Easley (Akeelah) and director Charles Randolph-Wright

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith, director Charles Randolph-Wright and PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Cast members Aimee K. Bryant and James A. Williams

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Children’s Theatre Company Artistic Director Peter C. Brosius and Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Cast members Zaria Graham and Johannah Easley

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Cast members celebrate the opening night for AKEELAH AND THE BEE at Arena Stage

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Cast members Greta Oglesby and Milton Craig Nealy

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Cast members James A. Williams and Johannah Easley with director Charles Randolph-Wright

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Director Charles Randolph-Wright with cast member Aimee K. Bryant

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Cast members Zaria Graham, Leo James and Ana Christine Evans

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Cast member Johannah Easley (Akeelah)

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Cast members Aimee K. Bryant and Nathan Barlow

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Cast members Tony Nam and Rafael Untalan

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Director Charles Randolph-Wright and his guest with cast members Darius Dotch, Nathan Barlow and James A. Williams

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Cast member Johannah Easley (Akeelah) is introduced by director Charles Randolph-Wright

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
The company of AKEELAH AND THE BEE

Photo Flash: AKEELAH AND THE BEE's Johannah Easley, Charles Randolph-Wright and More Celebrate Opening at Arena Stage
Young cast members




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