Broadbend, Arkansas


Broadbend, Arkansas
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A Black family grapples with decades of inequality, violence, and suppression in the South. Benny, an orderly at a nursing home, delicately balances his role as a caregiver to an ornery white resident who shares a contentious past with his white boss, while at the same time caring for his own family as the fight for equality grips the nation in the midst of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Twenty-seven years later, his daughter, Ruby, struggles to understand an incident of police brutality against her 15-year-old son. This unique musical, spanning three decades and three generations, asks us to contemplate the cycle of violence in this country and how we will find hope and create change against the backdrop of hate that plagues America.

Also available for separate licensing: JUST ONE 'Q' (Act One of Broadbend, Arkansas)

Libretto by Ellen Fitzhugh, Music by Ted Shen



A beautifully realized two-person chamber musical.



-New York Stage Review


Benny: a Black nursing home orderly in his 30’s

Ruby: a 30-year-old Black single mother

Setting: Act I: Just One 'Q' – 1961 – The Broadbend Nursing Home
Act II: Ruby – 1988 – The Broadbend Cemetery

  1. Scrabble
  2. I Cain’t Take Sides
  3. I Mean T’ Be in That Grave
  4. Brood Sow
  5. Greene Cotton
  6. Groomin’
  7. Gunsmoke
  8. Children
  9. Revlon Tweezers
  10. Truer Words
  11. The Park Hotel
  12. I Gotta Be in That Grave
  13. Only One Queen
  14. Goin’ Along on a Ride
  15. Justice Got No Color
  16. A Funny Kind of Trespass
  17. Such A Comfort
  18. What’s Next for a Man
  19. This is What Happens
  20. Broadbend Cemetery
  21. They Useta Ask Us
  22. In My Dreams
  23. In Her Dreams
  24. Mouse in the Corner
  25. It’s a Wonderful Life
  26. Talkin’ ‘bout Our Mama
  27. The Woman on the Porch
  28. More Than We Can Handle
  29. Father’s Day
  30. You Shouldn’t Be in That Grave
  31. Outrage
  32. Just One
  33. Some Kinda Sign
  34. What Did I Know
  35. He Knows You as His Mother
  36. To Be A Good Mom
  37. Moving Forward

Performance Royalties are based on theater particulars. Please fill out an application for a personalized quote.

Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement.

Antonyo Award nominations:
Best Original Score (Broadway and Off-Broadway combined category)
Best Book (Broadway and Off-Broadway combined category)
Best Actor in a Musical Off-Broadway (actor-actress combined category)

The Adelco Award nominations (encompassing both Broadway and Off-Broadway productions):
Best Musical
Best Director of a Musical
Best Lead Actor in a Musical
Best Lead Actress in a Musical

“A beautiful, urgent exploration of race and activism alongside the family and the deep ties that bind them.”–Oskar Eustis, The Public Theater

“A gripping meditation on identity and parenthood.” –Slant Magazine

“Shen's music, which manages to be both jazzy and contemplative, employs a kind of enhanced recitative approach, being tailored seamlessly to the text's progression of thought and providing brief, but powerful, bursts of melody for moments of emotional outpouring.” –Lighting and Sound America

Broadbend, Arkansas is stunning.” –New York Stage Review

“What distinguishes Broadbend, Arkansas—and make no mistake, it’s distinguished, all right—is its trenchant handling of one of today’s most pressing and most visible headline grabbers: racism.” –New York Stage Review

Broadbend, Arkansas is a little masterpiece that should have a long life on the concert stage.” –Theaterscene.net

Broadbend, Arkansas was for me what I always hope from musical theater and only rarely is . . . thoroughly rewarding.” –CurtainUp

“Grab a seat and buckle in for the emotionally charged journey through the complicated past and challenging present.” –front mezz junkies

Materials: Digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.

Required production materials for Broadbend, Arkansas:

  • Cast Scripts
  • Vocal Books
  • Director's Script
  • Stage Manager's Script
  • Orchestrations
  • Piano/Vocal Score


  • Piano/Conductor
  • Bass
  • Violin
  • Cello
  • Reed 1
  • Reed 2