Photo Flash: New Line Theatre's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
New Line Theatre, "The Bad Boy of Musical Theatre," closes its eighteenth season of provocative, adult, alternative musical theatre with the hilariously quirky and big-hearted Broadway musical, THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, running July 16-August 8, 2009, at the Washington University South Campus Theatre (formerly CBC High School), 6501 Clayton Road, just east of Big Bend. This is not on the Wash.U. main campus.
Do you ever feel like the pressure to succeed is just too great? Like you just might lose your job to the brown-noser in the next cubicle, like everything you are is wrapped up in whether or not you get that next raise or promotion? And when you remember back to your childhood, does it seem like it wasn't really any better back then...?
After incredible successes with Hair and Return to the Forbidden Planet, New Line Theatre closes this remarkable season with the first St. Louis production of SPELLING BEE, with a book by Rachel Sheinkin and music and lyrics by William Finn (Falsettos, A New Brain), based on C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E, an original play created by Rebecca Feldman and originally performed by The Farm, a New York-based improvisational comedy troupe. SPELLING BEE won two Tony Awards, two Theatre World Awards, and three Drama Desk Awards. New Line will offer local audiences a chance to see the show in the kind of intimate setting it was written for, with no one more than seven rows from the stage.
The show places us at an actual spelling bee -- complete with a few audience members among the spellers -- but underneath the show's wacky comedy there is an insightful look at the dark side of American ambition and competitiveness, and the insecurities and fears we all face every day. We are these kids, we finally realize, always being tested one more time, never able to rest on our past accomplishments. You'll laugh your ass off and then spend the next week on your therapist's couch.
The New York Times wrote about the show, "It's the more private but enduring triumphs -- the connection finally made with a member of the opposite sex, the discovery of previously unknown pockets of self-esteem -- that are really being celebrated. . . . Spelling Bee is not extravagant in its aims, but it lives up to its goals in a way that the season's bigger, glitzier and more ambitious musicals mostly don't. Gold stars all around!" The Boston Globe said, "Spelling Bee has everything a rollicking musical should have: wit and grace, heart and soul, charm and a bit of a bite." For more info about the show, visit the official page here.
New Line's cast includes Aaron Allen (as Leaf Coneybear), Emily Berry (Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre), Brian Claussen (Douglas Panch), Mike Dowdy (Chip Tolentino), Nicholas Kelly (William Barfee), Alexis Kinney (Marcy Parks), Katie Nestor (Olive Ostrovsky), John Rhine (Mitch Mahoney), and Deborah Sharn (Rona Lisa Peretti). Scott Miller directs the show, with choreography by Robin Michelle Berger, set by Todd Schaefer, lighting by Kenneth Zinkl, and costumes by Amy Kelly.
New Line Theatre is a professional company dedicated to involving the people of the St. Louis region in the exploration and creation of daring, provocative, socially and politically relevant works of musical theatre. New Line receives funding from the Regional Arts Commission, the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation, and the Missouri Arts Council. For more about New Line, visit www.newlinetheatre.com.
SPELLING BEE runs July 16-August 8, 2009, Thurs. through Sat. evenings at 8:00 p.m., at the Washington University South Campus Theatre (formerly CBC High School), 6501 Clayton Road, just east of Big Bend. July 16 is a preview. All seating is general admission. For Thursday night performances, tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. On Friday and Saturday nights, tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. Tickets are on sale now through all Metrotix outlets, including Macy's stores, the Fox Theatre, and select Schnucks stores, or by calling 314-534-1111. SPELLING BEE contains adult language and content.
NEW EDUCATORS DISCOUNT: New Line now offers all currently employed educators half price tickets on any Thursday night, with work ID or other proof of employment. Not valid in connection with other discounts or offers, available only at the door, and subject to availability.
NEW MILITARY DISCOUNT: New Line now offers all active duty military personnel half price tickets on any Thursday night, with ID or other proof of active duty status. Not valid in connection with other discounts or offers, available only at the door, and subject to availability.
New Line Theatre also continues to offer their College Free Seats, ten seats put aside for every performance, free to anyone with a valid college student ID, one ticket per ID. The Free Seats will be available at the theatre box office, from 7:00 p.m. to 7:55 p.m. on performance nights only.
For other information, visit New Line Theatre's full-service website at www.newlinetheatre.com. All programs are subject to change.
Photo credit: Jill Ritter