Blackfriars Theatre Presents THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE

Blackfriars Theatre Presents THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE

Blackfriars Theatre presents its 2019-2020 BTSI (Blackfriars Theatre Summer Intensive) production: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Following an eclectic group of six mid-pubescents vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime, the Tony Award-winning musical was penned by Rachel Sheinkin, from a concept by Rebecca Feldman and music by multiple award-winning composer and lyricist, William Finn. 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.

"Each summer our goal is to raise the bar to challenge and train the next generation of theatre artists. We work with a diverse range of theatre students (actors, designers, stage managers, directors) who are studying to pursue a career in theatre," shares Artistic & Managing Director, Danny Hoskins. "The BTSI program is designed to push them, in a professional setting, to raise the expectations in their own work and to arm them with new tools to broaden and strengthen their skills as an actor, stage manager or designer. This summer's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a perfect vehicle to stretch these young artists, both in their acting and vocal technique, and their technical and design skills, and offers all of them equal opportunity to grow as student artists."

BTSI (pronounced "Bitsy") was launched in the summer of 2016. The goal of the program is to provide professional-level actor training to the next generation of artists. Focused on rising juniors in high school through newly graduated seniors in college, BTSI offers continued training for students who are interested in or are currently studying to pursue a career in the field. Participating students undergo a 6-week program culminating in a musical theatre performance. Over the course of the intensive, students focus on ensemble building, actor training and performance process (acting, voice and dance). The BTSI program begins at the end of May and runs through the middle of July.

Also this year, Blackfriars is celebrating its 70th Anniversary. With a birthday bash in August, a pair of retrospective concerts, a play reading series highlighting favorites from past years and the biggest, brassiest season yet, Blackfriars will showcase everything that has made it special and essential over the previous 69 years as a staple of the downtown Rochester arts scene. The 70th Anniversary Season will be an important moment in our history as we celebrate the hard work of so many Rochester artists and kick off the next chapter of professionally-minded, artistically-ambitious local theatre-making!

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee cast includes Joseph Buck (Vice Principal Douglas Panch), Alexander Christie (Chip Tolentino), Savannah Devlin (Logainne Schwartzandgrubeniere), Alec Ewing (Leaf Coneybear), Joseph Greenan (Mitch Mahoney), Garrison Hunt (William Barfee), Melanie McBride (Rona Lisa Peretti), Chloe Phelps (Marcy Park), and Bridget Welch (Olive Ostrovsky). The production is directed by Mr. Hoskins, with musical direction by Andy Pratt and choreography by Lani Toyama Hoskins.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is presented with support from Upstate Coalition for a Fairgame Arts Grant and our 2019-2020 Media Sponsors CITY Newspaper and Warm 101.3.

Tickets are available in person at Blackfriars Theatre, online at, or by calling (585) 454-1260. Senior and student discounts are available online or through the Box Office. If available, tickets can be purchased at the door beginning one hour prior to performance. Box Office hours are Tuesday through Friday, 12:00 p.m. To 4:00 p.m. MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover are accepted at no additional charge.

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