‘25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’


Freshman Tori Mann and sophomore James Whelan are judges during the Putnam ounty spelling bee which premiered May 3.

Chloe Sell, Staff Writer

“High School Musical.” “Grease.” “West Side Story.” These are some of the most popular and easily recognizable musicals to be performed in high schools. However, the performing arts department will enact a less conventional musical in May entitled “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

“It’s a fun show. I think people in the audience are going to like it a lot,” said theater arts teacher and director Matt Rund. “[In practice], we’re right where we’re supposed to be.”

Telling the story of nine middle schoolers, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” showcases the humor that ensues when misfits and megalomaniacs come together to compete in the geographically obscure Putnam County spelling bee.

Several characters in the play have incredible eccentricities, such as Leaf Conybear, a competitor who wears a cape and helmet to school. Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre—the daughter of two gay fathers—is difficult to understand at times because of her lisp. And Olive Ostrovsky loved to read the dictionary on the toilet when she was younger, which developed her passion for spelling.

The musical will feature 19 cast members, a significant drop from past musicals that regularly have 40 cast members. Originally, there were only nine leads in the musical, but Rund wanted to expand the cast to allow for more student participation.

The crew is currently building the set, meeting  after school to work. Junior Annie Caleca says the hardest part is painting the bricks for the background, because the setting is a gym. Besides building the set, Caleca will undertake the lighting during performances.

“[Lighting] is something fun for me to learn that I have never learned before,” said Caleca.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is junior Michaela Upchurch’s fourth musical. She plays Mrs. Conybear, Leaf’s hippie mother, and is enthused about songs like “The I Love You Song” and “My Unfortunate Distraction.”

“The music is really interesting because there are lots of harmonies and they are funny as well,” said Upchurch.

Members in the audience should also  be prepared to take the stage. ‘Audience Interaction’ is included in the script, meaning that three random audience members will be selected from each of the three performances on May 3, 4 and 5 using a ticket raffle system. Each selected audience member will be a speller, and will be coached shortly before the show about their role onstage. It is another way to connect with the audience and have more fun, says Upchurch.

“There are some really funny things that happen throughout the show involving the audience members,” said Upchurch. “It’s just like they are in a normal spelling bee.”

Tickets will be sold the week of April 30, outside the cafeteria and at the door of the Auditorium before the show.