By Casey Sanders
Have you heard about the Spelling Bee? Have you seen the posters throughout school? While the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee may appear to be an upcoming academic challenge, it is actually this year’s fall musical.
The show is scheduled to take place on Nov. 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the school auditorium. This play tells the story of six students from the Putnam Valley Middle School who are competing in the annual spelling bee: Marcy Park (Bonnie Charles/Lucia Geng), an all-around outstanding student who recently transferred from Virginia; Olive Ovstrovsky (Dani Drucker/ Fiona Langstad-Hughes), a newcomer to the spelling bee world; Logainne Schwartzngrubenierre (Haylie Lempert/Alexis Pramberger), a young competitor with two overbearing fathers who insist that she win; Wiliam Barfee (Ben Weber), a spelling bee finalist from the prior year; Leaf Coneybear (Jack Doremus), a homeschooled hippie; and “Chip” Tolento (Josh Prisamt), a Boy Scout and reigning champion.
It’s noteworthy that this musical is double-casted—a rarity for South high school musicals. Ben Weber commented, “There’s so much talent and for a show like Spelling Bee which has such a small cast we are able to do basically two completely different productions. And it’s nice that we can take advantage of that.”
Drama teacher Mr. Thomas Marr, director of the performance, said, “These [characters] who feel like freaks when they arrive at the bee find others who are just like them, and they realize they’re not going to be alone for the rest of their lives.”
Mr. Marr feels many students can relate to this heartwarming message: “Composer William Finn put it best when he said that a spelling bee is a metaphor for the human experience [because] ‘sometimes you get the easy word and sometimes you don’t.’” Additionally, he explained that the musical must be a production that not only highlights the strong points of the cast members of Theater South, but also challenges the actors and entertains the audience.
Some lucky audience members will have the chance to personally participate in the bee. Mr. Marr implemented this interactive activity into the performance with hopes of stimulating the crowd. Junior Julia Kelly, who is Leaf Coneybear’s mother and a member of the ensemble, commented, “It’s going to be hilarious, and audience members will be on the edge of their seats! Though it is not as well known as some of the shows we have done in the past, it highlights a different side of many students and is such a great laugh.”
Another member of the cast, Bonnie Charles, agreed that the play is different from any other that has ever been performed at South because “a lot of [the play] is improvisational and volunteer-based…not a normal, scripted show. Anything can happen in the moment and no one knows what that will be until it happens.” The spontaneity, quirkiness, and comedic elements of the play will produce what sounds like an amazing play as well as a fun-filled evening for all.