PTC Hosts THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE 11/12-12/12
Philadelphia Theatre Company spells F-U-N when it opens its 35th Anniversary 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 November 12-December 12 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (Broad and Lombard Streets). Directed by Marc Bruni, the ensemble cast features Ephie Aardema, Will Blum, Lyle Mackston, Marla Mindelle, Olivia Oguma, Jerold Solomon, Ali Stroker, David Volin, and Brandon Yanez.
Previews begin Friday, November 12 with opening night on Wednesday, November 17. Performances run Tuesday through Sunday until December 12. Tickets are $48-$69, with discounts for students, seniors and groups. Tickets are available by calling the PTC Box Office at 215-985-0420 or visiting PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org. Philadelphia Theatre Company's Suzanne Roberts Theatre is located at Broad and Lombard Streets. Spelling Bee is a co-production with New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse, whose production runs in January 2011.
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.
"We are thrilled to be again producing a musical with a score by the brilliant William Finn whose lovely song cycle Elegies won two Barrymore Awards," said Sara Garonzik, PTC's Producing Artistic Director. "This delightful and poignant musical, which shows that it can be cool to be smart, is that rare experience that is relished by sophisticated adults as well as by the whole family."
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee premiered in 2004 at Barrington Stage Company before moving Off-Broadway to Second Stage Theatre. Upon transferring to Broadway, it was nominated for three Tony Awards.
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, produced by PTC in 2005. The world premiere of his newest musical, Little Miss Sunshine (music and lyrics) in collaboration with James Lapine (book and direction) will debut at LaJolla Playhouse this February. 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."
Marc Bruni (Director) recently directed Fanny for City Center's Encores! Series as well as Such Good Friends for which he won a NYMF Award for Excellence in Direction and the new musical Ordinary Days at the Roundabout Theatre. He has served as Associate Director for the Broadway productions of Grease, High Fidelity, The Pajama Game, Sweet Charity, La Cage Aux Folles, Wonderful Town, and The Little Shop of Horrors. Regionally he directed several productions at St. Louis MUNY including The Music Man which earned him a nomination for a Kevin Klein Award.
Ephie Aardema (Logainne) comes to PTC following performances as Liesl in the national tour of The Sound of Music and as Olive last spring in the Media Theatre production of Spelling Bee. She has appeared Off-Broadway in the title role of Dear Edwina and regionally at Circle in the Square, Goodspeed Opera House and Orlando Repertory Theatre.
Will Blum (Barfee) appeared in the Broadway and national tour productions of Grease. He has starred in several productions at Center for the Arts on Main and Roxy Regional Theatre as well as at The Boston Conservatory where he earned his BFA in Musical Theatre.
Lyle Mackston (Leaf) appeared at New York Music Festival and in the musical revue Rated RSO at Joe's Pub. Currently pursuing a BFA at Pace University, he has starred in Fiddler on the Roof, My Favorite Year, Parade and All Shook Up.
Marla Mindelle (Rona) appeared on Broadway in the Lincoln Center Theatre production of South Pacific and in the national tour of The Drowsy Chaperone. She has also performed in New York at Playwrights Horizon, National Alliance and Manhattan Theatre Club, and regionally at New Repertory Theatre, New York Stage & Film, and Princeton Opera.
Olivia Oguma (Marcy) has appeared on Broadway in Mamma Mia, Les Miserables and A Christmas Carol, as well as in the national tour of Disney's High School Musical. Off-Broadway she performed at Playwrights Horizon and the Lucille Lortel Theatre. A series regular on Sesame Street, she has had a recurring role on As The World Turns and guest stars on Law & Order and All My Children.
Jerold Solomon (Mitch) performed in South Pacific at Lincoln Center Theatre and in the national tours of Big River, Annie and Ragtime. He appeared in several productions at Berkshire Theatre Festival, New York Music Festival, and Ensemble Studio Theatre.
Ali Stroker (Olive) has starred in several productions at New Players Company and Surflight Theatre. She has appeared at Playwrights Horizon and American Theatre of Actors as well as on the national tour of The Kids for Kids Project.
David Volin (Panch) has appeared locally in the Walnut Street Theatre production of The Odd Couple and Moll. Regionally he has performed with New Jersey Repertory Company in The Women of Lockerbie, Klonsky & Schwartz, and The Laramie Project, Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Frost/Nixon, and Gloucester Stage in Enigma Variations.
Brandon Yanez (Chip) has been featured at Allegro Productions, including leading roles in Grease, Oliver, West Side Story, and The Sound of Music, and in several cabaret performances at Don't Tell Mama. He has appeared in the touring company productions of Romeo and Juliet as Tybalt and Taming of the Shrew as Cambio.
Spelling Bee brings together a creative team of PTC favorite designers - costume designer Alejo Vietti (Nerds) and lighting designer David Lander (Some Men, Nickel & Dimed, and Orson's Shadow) - with set designer Anna Louizos and sound designer Nick Kourtides. Andy Einhorn is the music director and Wendy Seyb is the choreographer.
Alejo Vietti, the 2010 TDF winner of the Irene Sharaff Young Master Award, has received a Helen Hayes nomination for A Christmas Carol at Ford's Theatre, a Carbonell nomination for Barnum at Maltz Jupiter Theatre, and a LA Theatre Alliance Ovation Award nomination for Enchanted April at Pasadena Playhouse. David Lander is the recipient of Tony Award and Outer Critics Circle nominations for 33 Variations, New York Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations for I Am My Own Wife, and a New York Drama Desk nomination for Dirty Blonde. Anna Louizos earned a Tony Award nomination for her designs of In The Heights and High Fidelity as well as a Drama Desk nomination for Curtains and Irving Berlin's A White Christmas. Nick Kourtides, manager of operations at the Lang Performing Arts Center at Swarthmore College, has received a Barrymore Award for Mission to Mercury at Pig Iron Theatre Company, and Barrymore nominations for The Producers at Walnut Street Theatre, Chekhov Lizardbrain at Pig Iron Theatre Company, and Chasing Nicolette at Prince Music Theatre. Wendy Seyb was an Outer Critics Circle winner for The Toxic Avenger Musical, which also garnered nominations for a Lucille Lortel, Dora and Callaway Awards. She was again nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for Click, Clack, Moo. Andy Einhorn was the music director for Brief Encounter and Sondheim on Sondheim, both at Roundabout Theatre, Radio Girl at Goodspeed Opera House, and the national tour of Sweeney Todd which won a LA Drama Critics Circle Award nomination. He has also served as music director for Barbara Cook, Audra McDonald and Ana Gasteyer.
CBS3 is the season media sponsor. B101 is the Spelling Bee media sponsor. The production sponsor for Spelling Bee is the Marjorie and Lewis Katz Foundation.
PTC's 35th Anniversary Season continues with the first post-Broadway production of Race by David Mamet and directed by Scott Zigler (January 21-February 13, 2011), the Philadelphia premiere of Anna Deavere Smith in her one-woman, award-winning show Let Me Down Easy (March 18 - April 10, 2011), and the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined by Lynn Nottage (May 20 - June 12, 2011). The Anniversary celebration began October 6 when Philadelphia Theatre Company launched PTC@PLAY, a mini-festival throughout October of staged readings of works by Jeffrey Hatcher, Theresa Rebeck, Bill Cain, Kirsten Geenidge, and the Tectonic Theater Project.
Founded in 1974, Philadelphia Theatre Company is a leading regional theater company whose mission today is to produce, develop and present entertaining and imaginative contemporary theater focused on the American experience that both ignites the intellect and touches the soul. By developing new work through commissions, readings and workshops-alone or in collaboration with others-PTC generates projects that have a national impact and reach broad regional audiences. Sara Garonzik has been PTC's Producing Artistic Director since 1982, and Diane Claussen became its Managing Director in 2007. Under their leadership, PTC supports the work of a growing body of diverse dramatists and takes pride in being a home to scores of nationally recognized artists who have participated in more than 130 world and Philadelphia premieres. In October 2007, PTC moved into a home of its own, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on Center City Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts, solidifying the Company's status as a major player on the American theater scene.