BWW Review: 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE at Capitol City Theatre
As we enter the gymnasium at Kinikiwaunomac High School we are greeted with the pep band, all in t-shirts and hats sporting the Kinikiwaunomac Kinkajous. This is the stage for the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee! We await the mix of young men and women who gather together for the Spelling Bee.
Chip Tolentino (Tom Vendafreddo) struggles with acute puberty, while home schooled Leaf Coneybear (Jake Morrissy) arrives with his entire family and a whole bunch of insecurities. Hyper allergic lugubrious William Barfee (pronounced like Parfait and played by Steven Mooney) rounds up the males in the bee.
The females represented include, the hard driven, over achieving Marcy Park (Meagan Lee Hodson), shy and unsupported Olive Ostrovsky (Stacy DeGolier) and the politically aware Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre (Hilary Fingerman)
Mitch Mahoney (Edwin Bates) provides comfort as the counselor in accordance with his parole.
Local talent Lisa Speirer and Patrick Fernan round up the oddball cast as Rona Lisa Peretti (host extraordinaire) and Vice Principal Doulas Panch respectively.
Those familiar with the show will also know that audience members are chosen to participate in the fun. The cast did a fantastic job of creating an inclusive space for these participants to interact with the actual cast in an appropriate and fun way that played well to the crowd.
The show moves along smoothly as each character reveals their own motivation and circumstance that brings them to the bee. As the Bee progresses we are drawn into not only their relationships with each other, but often their families as we get glimpses into their home lives.
We learn that Olive has no one here...or maybe anywhere for her. Leaf is not nearly smart enough to be here, according to his family, and we get one small glimpse into Marcy's world when she asks Rona, concerning her Bio; "And does it say that I only sleep three hours a night and I hide in the bathroom cabinet, and I'm not allowed to cry?....Well, it should". Logainne is not without her own issues as we see her two dads pressure her into being a champion.
As the contestants are eliminated, comfort counselor Mitch, supplies each departing contestant a juice box and a hug, whether they want one or not.
While the laughs are plenty, so are the feels. Our heart strings are pulled by the "I Love You Song" exposes more deeply the relationship between Olive and her parents. We celebrate when Leaf realizes that he is smart and acts with dignity and maturity. And we commiserate with Logainne when she asks if America still loves her, speaking deeply to our worship of winners and distain for losers.
This is a great production of this show and the venue is astounding. Capitol City Theatre Company puts on great works. Those who were honored enough to see "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill", know exactly what I am talking about, and if you weren't there for that, be here for this! You will not want to miss the B. This is a fun romp that leaves you wanting more, while nudging you to look closely at your own relationships.
WHO: Capitol City Theatre
WHAT: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
WHEN: Fri, Sept 22 and Sat, Sept 23 at 7:30 pm; Sun, Sept 24 at 2:00 pm
Thurs, Sept 28, Fri, Sept 29, Sat, Sept 30 at 7:30 pm; Sun, Oct 1 at 2:00 pm
WHERE: Overture Center for the Arts, Promenade Hall
COST: $46; Group rates available for 10 or more
TICKET INFO: capitalcitytheatre.org
Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, the musical comedy, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," takes an affectionate look at an eclectic group of six adolescents who vie for the spelling championship run by three just as quirky adults. Full of true comedic genius and touching stories from their home lives, the misfit tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words providing one unforgettable experience.