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The Friday 5: SPELLING BEE's Myers and Pendergrast


Opening tonight at Franklin's Pull-Tight Playhouse is the ever-popular The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, directed by Brett Myers (who last year starred as Vice Principal Panch in Circle Players' production of the show) and starring Benjamin Pendergrast, who takes on the role of Panch in this production. Find out what makes these two talented men tick - why do they think you should come see their show - and then try to score some tickets as quickly as possible.

Brett Myers

What was your first "live onstage" taste of theater? I never had a taste for theatre until I auditioned for my first show--a British farce called See How They Run. My friends talked me into it by telling me this was the one place I could act like a Monty Python character and get away with it. Sure enough, I got cast, and I made new friends whom I still cherish to this day. And ever since, my love for being onstage and playing characters with funny voices has been constant.

What is your favorite pre-show ritual? My favorite pre-show ritual has to be receiving a letter from St. Genesius. This was a tradition in my high school theatre department, where every opening night, someone would stumble upon a letter in an envelope hidden somewhere on the set, and it included a very poignant poem written by none other than "St. Genesius." The poem included well-wishes from the patron saint of actors, as well as all the little inside jokes, tech week mishaps, and funny stories from the show. The director would read the letter out loud before opening, and everyone would laugh and cry and get all emotional. The actual author of the poem was always kept a secret (but it was a tradition passed down by students), and it always made opening night that much more special.

What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? I did Urinetown in college, and in the song "Look at the Sky" we had this gigantic fabric heart that was supposed to magically rise from the stage and cover the entire proscenium - this thing was huge. One night during a performance, we were singing the song, doing our choreography, and the heart started to rise. However, I noticed only half the heart was going up, and the other half somehow got disconnected from its "magical" cable. So I ran over in a panic, jumped up to grab the wire and reattach it to the heart, and then everything got back on track. Simple fix, but in the moment it felt like it could have been a monumental catastrophe.

What's your dream role? Seymour Krelborn in Little Shop. It's always been my dream to get eaten by a giant plant, but I've never been in the right place at the right time.

Who's your theatrical crush? I guess you could say I have a polygamous crush because I am theatrically smitten by the 11 talented actors in Pull-Tight's Spelling Bee. When we cast them, I knew they'd be great, but every night they continue to astound me with their sincere commitment to their characters, their vocal acrobatics, and their flawless fancy footwork. They have brought new life to this show for me, and I absolutely love them for it.

SUPER-SECRET EXTRA-SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: Why should people come see your show? We are taking The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee to the next level. If you're a theatre person in Nashville, you've probably seen this show 25 times already, but I promise you - you haven't seen it like this before. We've created a special atmosphere reminiscent of a big-budget Hollywood game show studio, thanks to the clever set design by Jacob Street and the beautiful lighting by Steven Steele. This new spin gives the show a unique flavor that I think audiences will thoroughly enjoy. Not to mention, the cast is truly to die for, and I know they will infatuate audiences as they tell this story.

Benjamin Pendergrast

What was your first "live onstage" taste of theater? My first live on stage taste of theater was with Pull-Tight's 9 to 5: The Musical. It was an awesome experience and an awesome cast. I made amazing friends and had a great time!

What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Favorite Pre-Show Ritual: to be left alone for a few minutes...HA! My mind is always going-going-going whether it be work or studying or day dreaming about the most fun and random of things. Before a show, I usually just want to clear my mind so I zone out for a moment and just relax before starting to run through my first few lines in my head and feeling my character.

What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? My most memorable "the show must go on" moment: I would have to say was also with 9 to 5. We had one of the characters have to go out of town last for an emergency so we had to shift around a couple of roles and responsibilities. All worked out well though it was an interesting night.

What's your dream role? I don't know that I have a dream role per se, however I think it would be a lot of fun to play "Rocky" in a production of Rocky Horror Picture Show. Standing out on stage singing and acting in basically your could that not be fun?!

Who's your theatrical crush? The one and only amazingly beautiful, incredibly talented, super-hot Tosha Pendergrast! She is an inspiration in every shape, form, and fashion!

SUPER-SECRET EXTRA-SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: Why should people come see your show? Because it is HILARIOUS and unlike any Spelling Bee you have seen thus far. Brett Myers and Johnny Peppers brought together an incredibly talented cast of people that I am honored to be a part of. Their vision and direction for the show is not your standard Spelling Bee that I feel many would expect to see. Between the game show like set design of Jacob Street and the inspired choreography of Tosha Pendergrast, you can expect to see a show with a lot more dancing, laughs, and energy that will make it a most enjoyable night out at the theatre.

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