Middlebury Community Players Present THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE

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Middlebury Community Players Present THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE

Middle school. It's awkward. A few years ago these students were nose-picking, butt-scratching bundles of sweetness. A few years from now they will register to vote.

Broadway loves to weaves stories from this kind of stuff, and audiences everywhere have fallen in love with The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Middlebury Community Players will stage this Tony Award-winning musical at Middlebury's Town Hall Theater May 2-5.

The premise is brilliant: Cast young adults to play middle schoolers competing in a spelling bee. Add some adult characters with "issues." Layer in sophisticated but contagious music. Then-every single show-invite a few audience members onstage, cross your fingers, and hope the cast can keep everything under control.

What could go wrong?

We asked first-time director Aimee Diehl to discuss some of her favorite moments in the show, but she demurred.

"Can't tell you most of them," she said. "It would ruin the surprise. But we do throw candy!"

In the meantime, actors have enjoyed putting their personal stamps on their characters, she said.

"One is wearing a child's dress that I had in my costume collection, and it's one of the strangest, most mesmerizing things I've ever seen. Another is wearing someone's actual Boy Scout uniform, which was in storage but now has a second, glamorous life onstage."

Music director Jennifer Allred has found unexpected inspiration at every turn.

"It has been a gift to peel back the layers and discover so much hidden beauty," she said. At the same time, she added, "All of us house that dorky middle schooler inside of us somewhere and it's lovely to acknowledge it."

This family-friendly production is rated PG for mischievous behavior and a few bad words.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for students with ID-except for Thursday shows, which are discounted to $17. For ticket information contact Town Hall Theater (802-382-9222, townhalltheater.org). American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation will be provided at the April 28 matinee. The production is sponsored by The Little Pressroom. MCP's 2018-19 season is sponsored by Middlebury Fitness and Addison Residential.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee features music and lyrics by William Finn and a book by Rachel Sheinkin, and is presented by special arrangement with Music Theatre International, Inc., New York. All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIShows.com

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