Akeelah and the Bee (review)

Akeelah and the Bee (review)
Akeelah and the Bee (review)
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THE PLAY: Although this is based on the 2006 movie about a young black girl who goes all the way to the national spelling bee, several aspects of the story have been streamlined for this children’s production.


THE PRODUCTION: Upon discovering that this show runs 2 hours, my first instinct is that the young audience will be squirming well before the end, but I was wrong. (It’s recommended for 7 and up). The young Saturday morning audience was suprisingly attentive. This is partially due to the short scenes and bright musical interludes, but director Audra Honaker has infused the show with a plucky energy that makes it constantly charming. Karla Brown and Jim Bynum (who plays a drunk, not the best character for a children’s show) both create fun personalities. Some of the young actors are a bit tentative and Abagail Cook-Robinson, as Akeelah, seemed distracted by the audience and sometimes rushed her lines, but all of them provided lots of spirited personality and enjoyable interactions. Newcomer Jordan Pearson, as her troubled young brother, gives an especially impressive performance. Terry Powers has designed a set with 3 front porches that swivel to serve double duty. Running time:  2 hours (with intermission)


THE POINT: Even at 2 hours, this energetic ensemble (under the creative direction of Audra Honaker) manages to make every minute “spell” binding.


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


At Virginia Rep’s Children’s Theatre at Willow Lawn thru 11/5





Karla Brown (center) and the company. Photo by Aaron Sutten.

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