Mir­ror im­age

Au­di­ence mem­bers will rec­og­nize them­selves in ‘The 25th An­nual Put­nam County Spell­ing Bee’ play­ing at Kings Play­house in Georgetown this sum­mer

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY SALLY COLE

Au­di­ence mem­bers will rec­og­nize them­selves in ‘The 25th An­nual Put­nam County Spell­ing Bee’ play­ing at Kings Play­house in Georgetown

Au­di­ence mem­bers will see them­selves writ­ten into the sto­ry­lines of “The 25th An­nual Put­nam County Spell­ing Bee,” the Broad­way mu­si­cal play­ing in Georgetown this sum­mer.

That’s be­cause the peo­ple and the sit­u­a­tions in the show are uni­ver­sal.

“We’ll rec­og­nize a lot of our­selves in the char­ac­ters,” says di­rec­tor Richard Haines of the show that runs Sun­days to Wed­nes­days at the Kings Play­house un­til Aug. 30

The mu­si­cal com­edy cen­tres on six young peo­ple in the pangs of ado­les­cence who are com­pet­ing for the spell­ing cham­pi­onship of a life­time.

Over­seen by three quirky adults, these over­achiev­ers learn that win­ning isn’t ev­ery­thing and that los­ing does not nec­es­sar­ily make you a fail­ure.

Whether it’s Wil­liam Bar­fée, last year’s fi­nal­ist who was elim­i­nated for his al­ler­gic re­ac­tion to peanuts and known for his magic foot method (spell­ing out the words on the floor with his foot), or Marcy Park, an in­tel­li­gent young woman who is fo­cused on suc­cess and can find no joy in the com­pe­ti­tion, the on-stage por­tray­als will res­onate.

“Be­ing a comedic show, the char­ac­ters are a lit­tle ex­ag­ger­ated. But, each one of them pos­sesses a set of traits that is com­mon to all of us,” says Haines.

Take Leaf Coney­bear, the home-schooled boy with an at­ten­tion deficit dis­or­der.

“He’s a bit of an out­sider, but I be­lieve that au­di­ence mem­bers will re­late to his cu­rios­ity, hum­ble­ness and big heart, as well as his short at­ten­tion span,” says Ja­cob Hem­phill-King, who plays the char­ac­ter that wears a bi­cy­cle hel­met to the spell­ing bee for ex­tra pro­tec­tion.

Au­di­ences will also re­late to the pos­i­tive energy of Lo­gainne Schwartzand­Grube­nierre,

the youngest and most po­lit­i­cally-aware of the spell­ing bee con­tes­tants.

“She makes you feel good about your­self,” says Re­bec­cah Lam­bie, who en­joys play­ing the char­ac­ter.

Raised by two gay dads, Lo­gainne strives to im­press when she feels like she’s not liv­ing up to their ex­pec­ta­tions. She also talks with a lisp.

“So if you look at Lo­gainne you re­al­ize that you prob­a­bly don’t have it too bad,” says Re­bec­cah, with a laugh.

Au­di­ence mem­bers will also be re­minded of their younger selves in the show.

Watch­ing these kids com­pet­ing and feel­ing that all the pres­sure of the world is on them to win, some­thing like a spell­ing bee, re­minds us of what it’s like to be a kid, says Haines.

“It also re­minds us that we get to a point and re­al­ize that these things aren’t that im­por­tant. But what’s re­ally im­por­tant are friends and fam­ily. And this play helps to il­lus­trates those points.”

SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN

Con­tes­tant Chip Tolentino (Eli­jah Smith), right, de­bates the dif­fi­culty level of a word with vice-prin­ci­pal Dou­glas Panch (Adam Gau­thier), cen­tre, the of­fi­cial word pro­nouncer in “The 25th An­nual Put­nam County Spell­ing Bee”. From left are host Rona Lisa Peretti (Sa­man­tha El­iz­a­beth), the for­mer spell­ing bee cham­pion, and ex-con Mitch Ma­honey (Ian Byrne), who is per­form­ing his com­mu­nity ser­vice by be­ing the of­fi­cial com­fort coun­sel­lor for the bee. The show plays Kings Play­house in Georgetown un­til Aug. 30.

SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN

Ac­tors re­hearse a scene from “The 25th An­nual Put­nam County Spell­ing Bee” at Kings Play­house. From left are Re­bec­cah Lam­bie, Ja­cob Hem­phill, Alex Arse­nault, Eden McFad­den and He­len Kil­lorn.

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