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Bristol Riverside Theatre Opens its Mainstage Season with the THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE


Bristol Riverside Theatre Opens its Mainstage Season with the THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE

Bristol Riverside Theatre spells F-U-N when it opens its Mainstage season with the multiple Tony Award-winner The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee with music and lyrics by William Finn, book by Rachel Sheinkin, and conceived by Rebecca Feldman, running September 19-October 15. Directed by Amy Kaissar, the ensemble cast features Will Carlyon, Andrew Coleman, Leigha Kato, Kathryn McCreary, Joshua Morgan, Robert Smythe, Phebe Taylor, T.J. Wagner, and Brooke Wetterhahn.

Previews begin Tuesday, September 19 with opening night on Thursday, September 21. Performances run Tuesdaythrough Sunday until October 15. Tickets start at $45, with discounts for students, groups and military personnel. Tickets are available by visiting or calling the BRT Box Office at 215-785-0100. Bristol Riverside Theatre is located at 120 Radcliffe Street in Bristol, PA.

A hilarious tale of six 'tweens' in the throes of puberty vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime, this Tony Award-winning production is the unlikeliest of hit musicals about the unlikeliest of heroes: a quirky, charming cast of outsiders who learn that winning isn't everything and that losing doesn't make you a loser.

William Finn is the writer and composer of Falsettos, for which he was awarded two Tony Awards, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score. He has also written and composed In Trousers, March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland(Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, two Los Angeles Drama Critics Awards, two Drama Desk Awards, the Lucille Lortel Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in Playwriting) and A New Brain (Lincoln Center premiere 1998), and Elegies. Finn wrote the lyrics to Graciela Daniele's Tango Apasionado (music by Astor Piazolla) and with Michael Starobin, the music to James Lapine's version of The Winter's Tale. His musical Romance in Hard Times was presented at The Public Theatre. For television, Mr. Finn provided the music and lyrics for the Ace Award-winning HBO cartoon "Ira Sleeps Over" and the score for "The Poky Little Puppy's First Christmas."

Amy Kaissar (Director) was The Managing Director of Bristol Riverside Theatre from 2009-2014 and directed last season's hit production of Driving Miss Daisy as well as co-directed BRT's production of An Enemy of the People. She has served as a producer on Broadway of The Heidi Chronicles, starring Elisabeth Moss and Jason Biggs and of Jeanine Tesori's Tony-nominated musical Fun Home. Her directing work has been seen at The Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Abingdon Theatre, Stone Soup Productions, The Theatre Studio (NYC), The Philadelphia Dramatists Guild, on PBS (WQED-Pittsburgh), and at Epiphany Theater, a company she co-founded in 1999. In its 10 years, Epiphany supported the work of over 200 early career artists including future winners of the Tony, Jonathan Larson, Richard Rodgers, Reva Shiner, Heideman, and ASCAP awards.

Will Carlyon (Chip Tolentino) appeared on Broadway in the Roundabout Theatre production of Cabaret. Regionally he has been featured at Totem Pole Playhouse in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, CNR Drama in Into the Woods, Interlakes Theatre in Fiddler on the Roof, Camelot, and Chicago, and Tectonic Theatre Project in Gross Indecency.

Andrew Coleman (Mitch Mahoney) makes his BRT debut with this production. He has been a frequent guest at Paul Robeson Theatre, appearing in Smokey Joe's Café, The Amen Corner, and Jitney. He has also appeared at Raleigh Little Theatre in Memphis and Once on this Island, and at Crane River Theatre in Hairspray and The Little Mermaid.

Leigha Kato (Marcy Park) has appeared locally in Peter and the Starcatcher and Into the Woods at Theatre Horizon, Metamorphoses, A Little Night Music, and A Year with Frog and Toad at Arden Theatre Company, 4,000 Miles at Philadelphia Theatre Company, and several productions at Quintessence Theatre. She is a graduate of University of the Arts.

Kathryn McCreary (Rona Lisa Perretti) makes her BRT debut following appearances in the national tours of Phantom of the Opera and Avenue Q. Regionally she has appeared at Olney Theatre Center in Spring Awakening, Allenberry Playhouse in Smokey Joe's Café and Chicago, and PCPA Theatre Festival in Caroline or Change and Hairspray.

Joshua Morgan (William Barfee) comes to BRT following appearances on Broadway in Les Miserables. Regionally he has performed at Signature Theatre, Folger Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, Arena Stage and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

Robert Smythe (Vice Principal Douglas Panch) last appeared at BRT in Man of La Mancha. The recipient of six Barrymore Awards in the areas of choreography, design and education, and three additional Barrymore nominations for acting and sound design, he has written, directed and performed over 20 original productions using puppets as the founder and Artistic Director of Mum Puppettheatre. In addition to his work for Mum, he has directed and designed puppet work for theatres throughout the region and across the country, including Arden Theatre Company, The Wilma Theater, InterAct Theatre Company and Minneapolis Children's Theater.

T.J. Wagner (Leaf Coneybear) reprised the role he created at Florida Repertory Theatre and Hangar Theatre, where he also appeared in Ragtime, Little Shop of Horrors, Red, and Other Desert Cities. A recent graduate of Ithaca College, he has also performed in Far from Canterbury at Soho Rep and Measure for Measure at Shakespeare in Bryant Park.

Brooke Wetterhahn (Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere) is a recent graduate of NYU Tisch where she starred in Jerry's Girls, Sister Act, and Seussical: The Musical. She was awarded Best Female Soloist at the LA A Cappella Festival.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee brings together the creative team of BRT veterans designers: Set Designer Jason Simms, Costume Designer Linda Bee Stockton, Lighting Designer Ryan O'Gara, and Sound Designer Elizabeth Atkinson.

BRT's mainstage season continues with Quartet by Ronald Harwood (October 31-November 19), Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies on January 23-February 11, the Tony Award-winning blockbuster musical The Producers on March 6-April 1 and the farcical period-piece musical Triumph of Love on May 1-20.

Since 1986, BRT has continued to bring critically acclaimed professional theatre to Bucks County. The theatre is the recipient of over 68 Barrymore Award nominations for Excellence in Theatre, given annually by Theatre Philadelphia. Under the direction of Artistic Director Keith Baker, Founding Director Susan D. Atkinson, and Managing Director Anne S. Kohn, the theatre serves as a cultural hub for the community. In addition to its Mainstage productions, BRT offers four concerts including the holiday tradition An American Christmas Songbook, the new play development series America Rising, and the summer theater arts camp ArtRageous. For information, visit

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