Justin Cunningham in ‘Broadbend, Arkansas.’ (Photo: Carol Rosegg)
One of the sleeper hits of the season, Transport Group’s world premiere musical Broadbend, Arkansas will now be available for free video streaming beginning Monday, July 20, for four weeks (through August 16). An original cast recording will be released by Broadway Records later this month.
In Broadbend, Arkansas, a Black family grapples with decades of inequality, violence, and oppression in the South. As the 60s Civil Rights Movement grips the nation, a nursing home orderly named Benny delicately balances his role as caregiver to an ornery white resident with that as a provider for his own family. Thirty years later, his daughter Ruby struggles to understand an incident of police brutality against her 15-year-old son. Spanning nearly half a century and three generations, Broadbend, Arkansas contemplates the cycle of violence in our country and the struggle to find hope and create change against a backdrop of hate that plagues America.
Filled with both optimism and a brooding lack of reparation for our collective inability to address the disparities facing marginalized communities, its intimacy is its greatest strength. It’s also a reminder that theater’s power need not rely on extravagant flourishes but can be found here within two exceptional performances. — Matthew Wexler, Broadway Blog theater critic
Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper introduces the filmed performance, which can be viewed at transportgroup.org. Instead of a ticket fee, the company encourages contributions be made to the Black Theatre Network at blacktheatrenetwork.org.
A special live discussion with the cast and creative team will take place on July 23 at 7 p.m. ET with guests Marcia Pendelton of Walk Tall Girl Productions and Black Theatre Network President Andre Harrington, moderated by NYU Associate Professor Michael Dinwiddie. To register, visit transportgroup.org.
Broadbend, Arkansas, presented in association with The Public Theater, with Act 1 (“Just One Q”) book and lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh with music by Ted Shen and Act 2 (“Ruby”) book and lyrics by Harrison David Rivers with music and additional lyrics by Ted Shen, directed by Transport Group Artistic Director Jack Cummings III (two-time OBIE winner), played last fall at The Duke on 42nd Street, with a cast featuring Justin Cunningham (Netflix’s When They See Us) and Danyel Fulton who received a Drama League Award nomination for her performance. The production recently received three Antonyo Award nominations, including Best Book, Best Score, and Best Actor in an Off-Broadway Musical for Ms. Fulton.
Transport Group is the recipient of a special Drama Desk Award recognizing its “breadth of vision and presentation of challenging productions,” a special citation from the prestigious New York Drama Critics’ Circle, and a special OBIE Award, as well as numerous other awards and award nominations from the Outer Critics’ Circle, Lucille Lortel Awards, Obie Awards, Off-Broadway Alliance, Drama League, and others.
Founded in 2001, Transport Group stages new works and re-imagined revivals—both plays and musicals—that explore the challenges of relationship and identity in modern America. Currently headed by founder Jack Cummings III (Artistic Director) and Denise Dickens (Executive Director), Transport Group most recently produced the revival of Meredith Willson’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown (starring Tony nominee Beth Malone) nominated for seven Drama Desk awards. Other recent productions include the critically acclaimed revival of The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, Carmel Dean and Dick Scanlan’s world premiere musical Renascence (Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Musical.)