Ebersole, Esparza, Mitchell to Guest Star at Spelling Bee

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Tony Award-winners Christine Ebersole and Brian Stokes Mitchell, as well as Tony Award-nominee Raul Esparza, will join the cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for one night only as guest spellers at the Bee's first ever "Broadway Night at the Bee" on Sunday, March 18 at 7:30pm.   One more guest speller from the Broadway community is still to be announced.

"A hilariously hip musical comedy, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee features six young people in the throes of puberty, overseen by grown-ups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves, learning that winning isn't everything and that losing doesn't necessarily make you a loser," according to press materials on the show.

Ebersole is currently starring on Broadway in the musical Grey Gardens, for which she received the Obie Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, and a Special Citation from NY Drama Critics Circle.  Her other Broadway credits include Steel Magnolias, Dinner at Eight (Tony and Outer Critics Circle noms.), 42nd Street (2001 Tony and Outer Critics Circle awards), The Best Man, Getting Away With Murder, Harrigan 'n Hart, Camelot (opposite Richard Burton and Richard Harris), Oklahoma!, On the Twentieth Century, I Love My Wife and Angel Street.

Esparza is currently starring in the critically acclaimed Broadway revival Company.  His other Broadway credits include Taboo (Tony nom., Drama  Desk Award, Best Featured Actor); Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang; Cabaret; Rocky Horror Show (Theatre World Award), and Off-Broadway's The Normal Heart; Comedians; tick, tick, BOOM! (OBIE Award, Drama Desk nom.).  Esparza was  also seen in the national tour of Evita (Joseph Jefferson Nom) and the Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration's stagings of Sunday in the Park with George (Helen Hayes nom.) and Merrily We Roll Along.

Mitchell earned a Tony nomination for his performance in the title role of Man of La Mancha.  He won the 2000 Tony, Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards for his performance as Fred Graham/Petruchio in Kiss Me, Kate, and his other Broadway credits include lead roles in King Hedley II (Tony nom.); Ragtime (Tony nom.); Kiss of the Spider Woman; Jelly's Last Jam; Oh, Kay!; Mail and the City Center Encores! productions of Kismet, Do Re Mi and Carnival.

Spelling Bee is the Tony Award-winning musical with music and lyrics by William Finn, book by Rachel Sheinkin, conceived by Rebecca Feldman and directed by James Lapine.   The Broadway production of Spelling Bee opened on May 2, 2005 before launching a national tour in September of 2006 and an open-ended engagement in Chicago in March of 2006.

Tickets for Spelling Bee are available through Telecharge, (212) 239-6200 or www.telecharge.com, or by visiting the Circle in the Square Theatre box office (1633 Broadway).  Tickets prices are $95.00 and $50.00.  Premium seating is available.

For more information, please visit www.spellingbeethemusical.com.

Photo of Christine Ebersole by Retna Ltd.

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