Akeelah is an 11-year-old spelling p-r-o-d-i-g-y who will stop at nothing to make her dreams come true. Based on the 2006 film starring Keke Palmer, the play follows the journey of Akeelah as she travels from the south side of Chicago to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

sponsorsArchive: Akeelah and the Bee

Based on the screenplay by Doug Atchison
By Cheryl L. West
Directed Audra Honaker

"Beautifully staged show... has the audience cheering for the winners — in more ways than one."

Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Energetic ensemble (under the creative direction of Audra Honaker) manages to make every minute 'spell' binding"


"[My kids] were on the edge of their seats... The entire cast did a great job."

Richmond Family Magazine

Run Time: Approximately 2 hours, including intermission
Suggested for ages 8 and up.

From Artistic Director, Nathaniel Shaw

Many of the plays we do for Children show the world as we would LIKE it to be, while others show the world AS IT IS. Many of America's children, and children right here in Richmond, live with gang and gun violence as a backdrop to their daily lives. Akeelah is growing up on the South Side of Chicago, and you will hear the distant gun-fire of the neighborhood in the first scene. We believe this challenging circumstance is a truth that is ultimately essential to this triumphant story.

Shakespeare   Shakespeare   Shakespeare

Press Release (pdf)

"The story of Akeelah and the Bee is inspiring and heartwarming."

Play Off the Page

"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