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Celebration Theatre Co. Presents THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee features an eclectic group of six mid-pubescents going head-to-head in the spelling championship of a lifetime.

Celebration Theatre Co. Presents THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE

Celebration Theatre Company continues its fifth season with Rachel Sheinkin and William Finn's Tony Award-winning The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, running from April 30 - May 9, 2021 at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts' Alexis and Jim Pugh Theatre. Audiences will buzz along with six highly (and some not-so-highly) intelligent children and their personal relationships with life, love, family, and their passion for spelling.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee features an eclectic group of six mid-pubescents going head-to-head in the spelling championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming "ding" of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves! At least the losers get a juice box.

CTCo's first Mainstage production of the year will highlight mid-pandemic precautions to ensure the safety of our cast, crew, and audience by utilizing face masks for all production members, socially distant staging, regular COVID testing for cast and crew, vaccinations (where possible), and reduced capacity for audience members.

Christopher Robinson is a graduate of Michigan State University's class of 2013 with Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre. Previously, Robinson performed in CTCo.'s 2018 production of Spring Awakening as Moritz. Beyond the traditional theatrical setting, Robinson dedicated his entertainment abilities within several Orlando-area theme parks and resorts including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and Gaylord Palms. Robinson, an Orlando local, is excited to direct this passion project alongside several Orlando-area theatre artists, especially in this pandemic-influenced time. Previously having performed this show on two separate occasions, Robinson formed a deep, personal connection between Finn and Sheinkin's work and Robinson's late father. After performing as Chip Tolentino at the age of 20 in his hometown of Saint Johns, MI, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee became an immediate favorite of Robinson's theatre-loving father. In 2016 after moving from Michigan, years had passed since Robinson performed live in a musical. Robinson eagerly revisited this quirky show with Stage Cast Club, having been cast as Leaf Coneybear. An overdue family visit to see Robinson return to the stage was in development when he received a phone call from his brother notifying him of his father's passing. His father had been killed while riding a bicycle after being struck by a moving vehicle. The untimely news of his father's passing placed a

heavy significance on what once was Robinson's father's favorite show. But, the light-hearted hilarity of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee provided Robinson with a positive, optimistic, and creative outlet that allowed himself to honor his late father in a time where his

world had been flipped upside-down. With intention and inspiration derived from his father's passing, Robinson is excited to direct The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Robinson takes attention in his direction to address the world's current events and its effects, while still allowing Finn's songs and Sheinkin's dialogue to breathe uplifting life into the pandemic-stricken world we know of today.

Kit Cleto will be leading our choir of Putnam county kids as the production's Music Director. Cleto hails as a local Orlando theatre artist, CTCo. alum, and owner of his own personal business, Kit Cleto Voice Studio. Our six silly spellers will learn their "1-2-step" from choreographer Kit Riffel, a current Walt Disney World character and parade performer. Bringing the school auditorium to life are Scenic Designer and Lighting Designer, Kyle Radabaugh and Randall White. Radabaugh is an independent carpenter and set designer who also performs at Walt Disney World. White currently works as an Entertainment Technician at Walt Disney World as well. Lastly, Costume Designer, Russell Stephens provides the kids with their spelling-bee-appropriate colander helmets, bright pink overalls, and questionably-tied tennis shoes.

The spelling bee focuses on the stories of six vulnerable, yet charming children. First of which is the lovely Olive Ostrovsky, played by Jordan Grant. Grant currently works as a team member of Universal Orlando Resort. Grant's previous credits include "Vanessa" in Osceola Arts's 2020 production of In the Heights, "Esmerelda" in The Hunchback of Notredame, and "Ti Moune" in Once on this Island. Mary Mackin will play the plucky, lisp-laden Logainne Schwarzandgrubenierre. Mackin teaches dance for the Young Actors Company at Osceola Arts, while previously performing at Walt Disney World, Frontier City in Oklahoma City, OK, and the 2021 CTCo. cabaret, Sweets & Songs. The final of our three little leading ladies is the straight-edge Marcy Park, played by Maghan Ottomano. Ottomano is a small business owner of Cosmic Society, an online Etsy shop which specializes in jewelry, stickers, and macrame. Ottomano's previous performance credits include the Ensemble in Osceola Art's 2020 production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and the Tri-Wiz and Frog Choir shows at Universal Orlando Resort.

Our class of six somewhat-sticky kids is rounded out by three bewildering boys. Returning from the finals at last year's national bee, is Chip Tolentino who is played by Spencer Wrolson. Originally from Manitowoc, WI, Wrolson joins CTCo. for his second production following this season's opening cabaret - Sweets & Songs. The kooky and colander-clad super-speller, Leaf Coneybear will be played by Jared Roys, a CTCo. newcomer and current musical theatre student at the University of Central Florida, Class of 2022. Roys can currently be found acting and singing at Legoland Resort Florida. Lastly, the frumpy and fabaceous, William Barfee will wield his magic foot with portrayal by Garret Williams. Williams is making his CTCo. debut, after performing as Uncle Fester in The Addams Family and the ensemble in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at Osceola arts.

Aiding the children through the peaks and valleys of the Putnam County bee are the adults, including previous Putnam County spelling bee champion, Rona Lisa Peretti. The bee's host with an apropos name for 2021 will be the CTCo. debut role of Hannah McGinley Lemasters. As a frequent-flier performing across Orlando theatre, Lemasters also holds the self-proclaimed title of "Candy Crush Master" achieving level 6,378. The frustrated second-in-command, Vice Principal Panch, is played by Justin Mousseau. Mousseau can also be seen in the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame following his performance in a production of We Don't Play Fight - the first staged production to feature real wrestling. Mousseau also understudies the roles of William Barfee and Mitch Mahoney. Rounding out our cast is Mitch Mahoney, the ex-con fulfilling his court-mandated community service as the bee's comfort counselor. Mahoney is played by Paul Naidas, former Public Relations Apprentice at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, PA from 2018-2019. Naidas returns to CTCo. after his debut performance in CTCo.'s Sweets & Songs.

Completing our cast are our talented understudies who will cover for the original cast members in case of an emergency. Each understudy was challenged to learn two roles, and will each make their CTCo. debuts. Our first understudy, Sarah Biggs, covers the roles of Rona Lisa Peretti and Olive Ostrovsky. Biggs is a Behavior Technician at a special needs charter school and has previously performed with Titusville Playhouse in their productions of Bright Star (Margo), Matilda the Musical (Ms. Honey), and Shrek The Musical (Fiona). Covering the roles of Chip Tolentino and Leaf Coneybear is John Aric Cleland. A Syracuse University alum with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting, Class of 2019. Previously Cleland performed on Shakespeare's Globe Stage in London, England, in addition to the Edinburgh Fringe. Finishing out our understudies is Taylor Sage Priday who covers Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre and Marcy Park. Before the pandemic, Priday traveled the pacific northwest and western Canada with Missoula Children's Theatre as an actor, director, and educator. Additionally, Priday would sing 1930's and 1940's jazz classics to the elderly at local nursing homes.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is live on stage at the Dr. Phillips Center Alexis & Jim Pugh Theatre from April 30 - May 9, 2021. For 24/7 ticket purchasing please visit www.tickets.drphillipscenter.org/production/12534.


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