Contestantst of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin’s hysterically funny and charmingly endearing musical about the joys and agonies of six young finalists in a county spelling bee. Taking place in a Putnam Valley Middle School Gymacafetorium (in a geographically ambiguous area) the six adolescent contestants are joined on stage by four audience members. They are managed by two quirky adults, Rona Lisa Peretti (a former Bee winner) and Vice Principal Douglas Panch (played by an improv comedian).
The source material for the musical was the improvisational play, C-R-E-P-E-S-C-U-L-E (which had a three year Broadway run.) Opening as a long, One Act Musical on Broadway in 2005, Finn and Scheinkin’s musical was nominated for six Tony Awards and won two, one being for Best Book.
b>Becca Ayers, as the prim, ever positive, Rona Lisa Peretti, possesses the most dulcet of soprano voices. Colin Hanlon as Vice Principal Douglas Panch, the Official Pronouncer, is brilliantly adept at providing us with hilarious examples of the “spelling word” as used in a sentence. Such as, “The word is Mexican.” “Can you use it in a sentence, please?” “Donald Trump is definitely not a Mexican.” It should be noted that the vocals of the entire cast are especially delightful in the closely harmonized group choral parts of the score and that all six cast members who portray the idiosyncratic students excel at their farcical yet winning characterizations. Paul Pilcz as William Barfée should be singled out as being particularly ludicrous and yet completely believable at the same time. And Maurice Murphy (a veteran of the original Broadway production) as Mitch Mahoney, must take the prize as having the sweetest, smoothest voice this side of the Mississippi.
If you’ve never seen this show – this would be an excellent chance for you to catch a terrific production of this extremely clever and entertaining piece of musical theatre.