Ford's Theatre Society Presents THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, Now thru 5/17

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Ford's Theatre Society Presents THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, Now thru 5/17

Ford's Theatre Society 2013-2014 season continues with the quirky Tony-winning musical comedy "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," directed by Peter Flynn, today, March 14 through May 17, 2014, at Ford's Theatre (511 Tenth Street NW, Washington, D.C.). The production features a local Washington cast of Helen Hayes Award nominees as six awkward adolescents and their proctors, all working through a daunting and hilarious championship quest.

In "Spelling Bee," six pubescent students navigate their county's spelling tournament with anxiety, angst and determination. As the competitors progress with the help of definitions, mnemonic devises and toe-tapping tricks, they discover a new sense of belonging and learn that there is more to life than winning a trophy. This charming coming-of-age tale also invites four volunteers from the audience to participate in each performance, ensuring new and unexpected comedy every night.

"Whether you're in eighth grade or age 48, there is something in 'Spelling Bee' that will remind you who you are or who you once were," said Director Peter Flynn. "While delighting audiences with a heap of amusing music and colorful characters, Spelling Bee has a magical way of making audiences rediscover that there's something worth rooting for in all of us."

"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" is made possible by Lead Sponsor Altria Group and Sponsor Raytheon Company. Media Partner ABC-7/NewsChannel8/WJLA.com provides promotional support throughout the run. The 2013-2014 season sponsors are The Home Depot and Chevron.

Peter Flynn returns to direct at Ford's for the first time since the record-breaking production of "1776." Flynn also previously directed the February 2009 Grand Reopening Celebration of Ford's Theatre featuring James Earl Jones, Audra McDonald, Richard Thomas, Ben Vereen and others. Flynn has directed the Actors' Fund Broadway concerts of "Our Town," featuring Blythe Danner, "On the 20th Century," "Chess" and "Funny Girl"; and the Off-Broadway productions of "Two Rooms" (Lion Theatre) and the Lucille Lortel Award-nominated "Henry and Mudge and Junie B. Jones" for TheatreWorks, among others. His regional directing credits include productions of "Barrio Grrl!" (Kennedy Center), "Sleuth," "The Piano Lesson," "Gypsy," "Guys and Dolls" and "The Crucible." He also directed "A Child's Christmas" in Wales for the National Theatre for the Deaf. While Artistic Director of the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY, Flynn directed the world premiere of Tim Pinckney's "Ever So Humble," as well as productions of "Lend Me A Tenor," "Dirty Blonde," "Man of LaMancha" and David Mamet's "November." Flynn is Director of the Musical Theatre Program at Stella Adler Studio and serves on the faculty of New York University.

The cast of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" includes Carolyn Agan (Olive Ostrovsky), Matthew A. Anderson (Vice Principal Douglas Panch), Felicia Curry (Marcy Park), Kristen Garaffo (Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere), Vincent Kempski (Chip Tolentino), Kevin McAllister (Mitch Mahoney), Vishal Vaidya (William Barfee), Nickolas Vaughan (Leaf Coneybear) and Rachel Zampelli (Rona Lisa Perretti), with Maggie Donnelly and Clark Young.

Peter Flynn's design team includes Choreographer Michael Bobbitt (1776, Black Pearl Sings!); Music Director Christopher Youstra (Little Shop of Horrors); Scenic Designer Court Watson (Liberty Smith, Little Shop of Horrors); Costume Designer Wade Laboissonniere (Violet; Hello, Dolly!; 1776; Parade; Liberty Smith; others); Lighting Designer Nancy Schertler (1776; Broadway's Largely New York) and Sound Designer David Budries (Violet; Hello, Dolly!; Our Town; 1776; Parade; others). Spelling Bee also features Wig and Makeup Design by Anne Nesmith (Violet, Our Town, Necessary Sacrifices, Parade, others). The production team also includes Production Stage Manager Craig A. Horness and Assistant Stage Manager Taryn Friend.

There will be audio-described performances of Spelling Bee on Tuesday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 3, at 2 p.m. A sign-interpreted performance is Thursday, May 1, at 7:30 p.m. A captioned performance is Saturday, May 10, at 2 p.m.

Photo by Scott Suchman

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