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