Meet the Genius Behind the Space Race in the Little Theatre of Norfolk production of Red Moon Rising in the East by Dwayne Yancey

Red Moon Rising in the East By Dwayne Yancey November 6th to 15th. It is a dark background with a red moon and the silhouette of Sputnik in front of the moon

Words and Images courtesy of the
Little Theatre of Norfolk.

The Halloween night “Blue Moon” full moon turns a different color in November in the Little Theatre of Norfolk video-on-demand production of Red Moon Rising in the East by Roanoke playwright Dwayne Yancey. This one act, one-man play introduces us to the father of the space race, who is an unknown by most Americans.

Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, played by actor Brian Cebrian, was the engineering mastermind behind many of the world’s space firsts. He launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, and the first dog, man and woman into space. Soyuz spacecraft today use a design that’s a direct descendent of his R-7 rocket design. 

Brian Cebrian on stage next to a model of Sputnik

While Cebrian has been active with Little Theatre of Norfolk since 2013, this is his first opportunity to perform a one-man play. “It’s intimidating at first when you first see that script and it has page after page of text, and you realize it’s all you with no one else to bail you out,” said Cebrian. “On top of the large block of text, I also had to learn a Russian accent. That wasn’t in my acting tool box previously.”

Director Bill Armstrong can relate. He has played Korolev in four separate runs over the years. “I have known Dwayne since shortly after I first read his original two act version of the play. I was the script reader for original plays being sent to the 40th Street Stage here in Norfolk. Two pages in, I was reading it with a Russian accent. Through emails and phone calls, we explored the viability of performing the play here in Norfolk. I ended up premiering the play at 40th Street Stage,” said Armstrong. “I also performed the play in Roanoke where I got to finally meet Dwayne in person.”

Much like Korolev and the vast unknown of space, Armstrong was dealing with a bit of the unknown himself. While the production was fully staged— complete with a set, props, costumes, lights, and sound, it had to be filmed and edited for the virtual offering. “We are sailing uncharted waters during these uncertain times. The volunteers at LTN are an amazing group of people with a diverse talent set, who were able to jump in and assist on any aspect of the production. This will be the theatre’s ‘dress rehearsal’ for a new way to entertain our audiences. It is my hope that our streaming performance can help keep revenue coming into the theatre,” explained Armstrong. 

In a typical season, subscriptions and ticket sales contribute about 70% of the theatre’s annual revenue. The COVID-19 pandemic closure forced Little Theatre of Norfolk to scrap the lineup originally planned for their 94th season. The theatre’s virtual offerings have been free to date, with donations welcomed. Red Moon Rising in the East will be the first ticketed show. Tickets are on sale now at ltnonline.org for the November 6 – 15 run. The cost is $20, plus a $2.67 fee per ticket to rent the video-on-demand performance for 48 hours.

About Little Theatre of Norfolk
Little Theatre of Norfolk is a volunteer led, non-profit community theatre, continually operating since 1926. It is located at 801 Claremont Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood of Norfolk. Information about upcoming performances, auditions, workshops, and volunteer opportunities can be found at www.ltnonline.org.

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