Performances run March 15 - March 31.

By: Feb. 29, 2024
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Wright State Theatre will present two casts in  The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, running March 15 - March 31.

Featuring a fast-paced, wildly funny and touching book by Rachel Sheinkin, a truly fresh and vibrant score by William Finn, this bee is one unforgettable experience. Six awkward spelling champions learn that winning (and losing) isn't everything. Directed and Choreographed by Joe Deer (Distinguished Professor of Musical Theatre), and Music Directed by Instructor F. Wade Russo, with Scenic design by guest designer Ray Zupp, Costume design by senior Sean Hannah, and Lighting Design by Professor Matthew Benjamin and student Alex Markley.

Guest Scenic Designer Ray Zupp has been designing for over 15 years, working in theatres across the United States as well as television and film, working on projects for Netflix, HBO, Peacock, ABC, Amazon, and Disney+. His designs have been seen locally at the Human Race Theatre Company (One Slight Hitch, The House, Lizzie, The Revolutionists, and the upcoming Peerless, directed by Wright State Theatre Artistic Director, Marya Spring Cordes) or the Dayton Ballet (Cinderella, Dracula: Bloodlines, The Nutcracker 2011-2023, and the brand new Nutcracker this winter). Ray currently works as a full-time Art Director, spending the last two years designing immersive attractions for major theme parks in the United States and abroad in the UK, Saudi Arabia, and China.

Here are some thoughts from Director and Choreographer (Distinguished Professor in Musical Theatre and former Artistic Director) Joe Deer. “SPELLING BEE is a perfect combination of humor wit and heart. Every one of us can see some part of our own experience, our vulnerabilities and ambitions at that age, and laugh at them because they are us. I think it's a very rare piece of theater that can do all of that with so much skill. We've done something amazing in creating two full casts for this show. Of course, it gives a lot of students an opportunity to play great roles. But, it also puts on display the incredible individuality and versatility of our hugely talented students. Our most devoted audience members may choose to come and see both casts.”

He goes on to share, “This will be the last show I direct and choreograph at Wright State University as a full-time faculty member. And I think it's fitting because it's all about sensitive and exceptional young people at the beginning of their journey. I've had the pleasure of working with hundreds of students over the last 27 years at this university, and many more around the world. As much as we like to think that there are big differences between generations and nationalities, the reality for me is that their desire to develop their craft and be able to tell the stories that matter most to them is universal and timeless.”

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee runs in Wright State University’s Festival Playhouse (Creative Arts Center) from March 15 – March 31. 



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