Review: THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE at George Street Playhouse is a Vibrant and Wonderfully Performed Musical Comedy


 Surflight Theatre Opens 2023 Season With STEEL PIER

George Street Playhouse (GSP) is currently presenting The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It's the most fun you'll ever have going to the theatre! Performances of this newly conceived production of the Broadway hit continue through April 9th in the Arthur Laurents Theater at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC). We attended a Saturday matinee when the audience was thrilled by the show.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is based on an original play by The Farm called C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E. This engaging musical comedy has a book by Rachel Sheinkin, additional material by Jay Reiss, with music and lyrics by William Finn. GSP's production enjoys ingenious direction by Colin Hanlon, fine musical direction by Mat Eisenstein, and spirited choreography by Nancy Renee Braun. The Assistant Director is Lindsay Chambers.

 Surflight Theatre Opens 2023 Season With STEEL PIER

Everyone can remember an experience with a spelling bee making this show very relatable. It tells of six middle school students in Putnam County, New York who have qualified to participate in the challenging spelling bee. The contestants have distinctive personalities and unusual spelling strategies causing the tournament to become hilarious. The actions of the adults that are tasked to organize the event add even more comedic moments to the scenes. The GSP show cleverly brings a few audience members to the stage to participate as well.

 Surflight Theatre Opens 2023 Season With STEEL PIER

The outstanding cast of thespians delivers wonderful portrayals of their roles. They include Ally Bonino as a local realtor and the spelling bee moderator, Rona Lisa Peretti; Jordan Matthew Brown as a science nerd who suffers from nasal congestion, William Barfee; Lila Coogan as the bright and shy girl, Olive Ostrovsky; Coleman Cummings as scholar/athlete, Chip Tolentino; Angel Lin as the precocious, socially conscious student leader, Logainne Schwartzandgrubeniere; Sammy Pignalosa as a cheerful and optimistic youngster, Leaf Coneybear; Aaron Michael Ray as a parolee performing community service, Mitch Mahone; Kilty Reidy as the Vice-Principal, Douglas Panch; and Sumi Yu as the gifted scholar, Marcy Park. Izzy Figueroa and Gillian Hassert are the understudies.

 Surflight Theatre Opens 2023 Season With STEEL PIER

The musical numbers perfectly complement the show and bring insights to the characters' lives. Some of our very faves are "The Rules/My Favorite Moment of the Bee" by Panch, Rona, and Spellers; "Pandemonium" by Company; "I'm Not That Smart" by Leaf; "Magic Foot" by Barfee and company; "Chip's Lament" by Chip; "I speak Six Languages" by Marcy and Company; "The I Love You Song" by Olive, and Olive's Parents; and The "Last Goodbye" by Company.

 Surflight Theatre Opens 2023 Season With STEEL PIER

The Design and Production Team have created the ideal setting for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. You will feel you're at a real contest in the middle school "cafetorium." The Team features scenic design by Jason Simms; costume design by Lisa Zinni; lighting design by Joe Saint; sound design by Cody Spencer; and hair and wig design by Tommy Kurzman. The Production Stage Manager is Samantha Flint; Production Manager, Christopher J. Bailey; and Casting is by McCorkle Casting, Pat McCorkle, CSA and Rebecca Weiss, CSA.

We applaud GSP's Artistic Director, David Saint for continuing to bring top entertainment to New Brunswick. Gather your group and get tickets for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It is a show that is sure to please wordsmiths and many more this spring season.

George Street Playhouse is located at 9 Livingston Avenue (at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center) New Brunswick, NJ 08901It is in the heart of the city's theatre and dining district with convenient nearby parking and convenient to mass transit options. Tickets for the The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee begin at $25 and are on sale. For subscriptions and group discount information visit or call 732-246-7717.

Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson



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Marina P. Kennedy's writing career led her from freelancing opportunities in New Jersey and New York to writing for where she covers entertainment, the culinary scene, ... (read more about this author)


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