BWW Review: THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE at Midvale Main St. Theatre
"We are the slightest bit bizarre," sings William Barfée in THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE.
At the Midvale Main Street Theatre production, Director Tammy Jackson moves the action smoothly along as each middle-school spelling bee champion's individual quirks and oddities are revealed. They cast interacts well with each other and is earnest in their portrayals. Audience members have a good time with the musical staged, primarily because they were apparently composed primarily of enthusiastic friends and family members on opening night.
A few actors give winning performances of the awkward years of adolescence designed in SPELLING BEE. As the hormone-driven Chip Tolentino, Tommy Kay impresses with his ability to combine innocence and burgeoning sexuality. His character's song ends the first act with hilarity, despite the misguided uncontrolled chaos of "Pandemonium." Along with the other mishmash clothes, the uncredited costume designer has confusingly selected a Boy Scout uniform for Chip.
Rylee Jensen skillfully develops her character as the neglected Olive Ostrovsky, whose mother in an Ashram in India and her no-show father has failed to pay the $25 entrance fee. Olive appears to blossom before our eyes as she gains more confidence with her wordsmith skills. Her sincere "The I Love You Song" is a high point. As the bee director, Rona Lisa Peretti, Hannah Roskelley is appealing. Each "My Favorite Moment of the Bee" is a favorite moment.
Other performers missed the "slightest bit bizarre" script instruction and cartoonishly overplay. The worst offender is Micah Taylor as Leaf Connybear, generally the most appealing role; but he plays the role as an alien from Planet Weirdo. Partly to blame is his Bozo costuming, which would lead anyone to insanity. It was ill-advised for Taylor Lawrence to add a ballet obsession to her character. There was missed dialogue with inarticulate pronunciation, along with monotone delivery, of Jourdan Dixon as Vice Principal Douglas Panch.
Any vocal prowess developed by Music Director Hannah Hayles is completely undone by the poor sound system. Once a solo hits a certain volume level, the sound is muffled and distorted.