Event date: 6/16/2017 7:30 PM - 6/25/2017 3:00 PM Export event
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
June 16-25, Naperville Central HS Auditorium
A Tony award-winning one act musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee invites audience members onstage to participate in the hallowed middle school tradition of spelling complicated words while trying to suppress thoughts of cute classmates, family drama, and self-doubt.
This 2005 Broadway hit by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin has an improvisatory feel and features as few as nine actors, three of whom portray exasperated spelling bee moderators and various parents, while the other six become the adolescent geniuses whose suspenseful spelling attempts and subsequent monologues move the plot along. The story follows spellers Olive, Logainne, Leaf, Marcy, Barfee, and Chip, who show varying levels of skill and interest in participating. For example, Leaf is certain he doesn’t know any of the words given to him, but a strange trance overtakes him each time it’s his turn at the microphone, causing him to advance against all odds. Barfee is a champion with an unusual technique that makes him unstoppable. Marcy doesn’t envision a world where she isn’t the best, and Logainne’s dads feel the same way about their daughter. Chip would be a great contestant if there weren’t a hot girl in the front row.
Meanwhile, the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is moderated by a nostalgic former champion, Rona Lisa Peretti; a surly word pronouncer named Panch who has little patience for the young contestants; and comfort counselor Mitch Mahoney, whose presence is required by his community service mandate.
While this ensemble cast is responsible for plot and music, some of the laughs go to audience participants who are selected to join the bee and try their skill at some of the most difficult words in our language. Some of the catchiest songs from this modern score include “I Speak Six Languages,” “Magic Foot,” and “Pandemonium.”
Despite being a story about children, we encourage you to leave your youngest at home: adult language and sexual content give this show a PG-13 rating.
Opens June 16 for two weekends!
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 3:00. All performances at the Naperville Central High School Auditorium.
Director: Jake Ganzer
Vocal Director: Eric Downs
Music Director: Emma Gingold
Producer: Jeff Sand
Costume Designer: Sarah Eaves
Technical Director: Tina Goings
Introducing the Cast of Characters in Summer Place Theatre's Putnam County Spelling Bee:
- Meg McGarry as Rona Lisa Peretti: The number-one realtor in Putnam County, a former Putnam County Spelling Bee Champion herself, and returning moderator. She is a sweet woman who loves children, but she can be very stern when it comes to dealing with Vice Principal Panch, who has feelings for her that she most likely does not return. It is implied that she sees much of herself in Olive Ostrovsky. Her favorite moment of the Bee is in the minutes before it starts, when all the children are filled with the joy of competition, before they begin to resent each other. She later declares that she likes how everyone has an equal chance of winning, citing as an example that last year's winner can be this year's loser andvice versa. Another favorite moment is when the last winners go head to head for the top spot because it is so suspenseful and filled with hope. Ms. Peretti herself won the Third Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by spelling "syzygy", which she recounts at the very beginning of the opening number.
- Jonathan Booth as Vice Principal Douglas Panch: After five years' absence from the Bee, Panch returns as judge. There was an "incident" at the Twentieth Annual Bee, but he claims to be in "a better place" now (or so we think), thanks to a high-fiber diet and Jungian analysis. He is infatuated with Rona Lisa Peretti, but she does not return his affections.
- Zenia Walker as Mitch Mahoney: The Official Comfort Counselor. An ex-convict, Mitch is performing his community service with the Bee, and hands out juice boxes to losing students.
- Christina Duris as Olive Ostrovsky: A young newcomer to competitive spelling. Her mother is in an ashram in India, and her father is working late, as usual, but he is trying to come sometime during the bee. She made friends with her dictionary at a very young age, helping her to make it to the competition.
- Mitchell kinn as William Morris Barfée: A Putnam County Spelling Bee finalist last year, he was eliminated because of an allergic reaction to peanuts. His famous “Magic Foot” method of spelling has boosted him to spelling glory, even though he only has one working nostril and a touchy personality. He has an often-mispronounced last name: it is Bar-FAY, not BARF-ee (there's an accent mark, he explains with some hostility). He develops a crush on Olive. At the end of the play he wins the spelling bee.
- Em Rose Seidenberg as Logainne "Schwarzy" SchwartzandGrubenierre: Logainne is the youngest and most politically aware speller, often making comments about current political figures, with two overbearing gay fathers pushing her to win at any cost. She is somewhat of a neat freak, speaks with a lisp, and knows she'll return to the bee next year.
- Alexandra Alontaga as Marcy Park: A recent transfer from Virginia , Marcy placed ninth in last year’s nationals. She speaks six languages, is a member of all-American hockey, a championship rugby player, plays Chopin and Mozart on multiple instruments, sleeps only three hours a night, hides in the bathroom cabinet, and is getting very tired of always winning. She is a total over-achiever, and attends a Catholic school called "Our Lady of Intermittent Sorrows." She is also not allowed to cry. She is often portrayed by an Asian actress.
- Sam Martin as Leaf Coneybear: A homeschooler and the second runner-up in his district, Leaf gets into the competition on a lark: the winner and first runner-up had to go to the winner’s Bat Mitzvah . Leaf comes from a large family of former hippies and makes his own clothes. He spells words correctly while in a trance . In his song, "I'm Not That Smart", he sings that his family thinks he is "not that smart," but he insinuates that he is merely easily distracted. Most of the words that he is assigned are South American rodents with amusing names.
- Eliseo Martinez as Charlito "Chip" Tolentino ("Tripp Barrington" in the original workshop, "Isaac 'Chip' Berkowitz" in the Chicago production): A Boy Scout and champion of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, he returns to defend his title. Relatively social and athletic, as he plays little league, Chip expects things to come easily but he finds puberty hitting at an inopportune moment.
These fine actors will be doubling up on some other roles (parents,etc).
Also, Abi Bradshaw and Markos Smith are featured in the cast as swing roles.