The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

A few cast members sing a part during ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’. The musical had a much smaller cast than usual, featuring only nine cast members. (Photo used by permission of Katrina Tarson)

*Play was on Saturday*

The theater department kicked off the school year with a comedic musical: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The production was highlighted by a small 9-character cast, audience participation, and a slew of comedic remarks.

The show focuses on six children who partake in a spelling bee run by three adults at Putnam Valley Middle School. The characters are all unique and quirky in their own way, and their contrasting personalities clash to give the musical its humorous emphasis.

Aside from the usual singing and dancing involved with most musicals, this musical features audience participation. Members from the audience are called to the stage to actively participate in the spelling bee. Without a “fourth wall” in the show, the musical is much more engaged with the audience.

Drew Connelly, senior, was one audience member who was invited to the stage. “It was pretty fun. Just getting to run up there even though you didn’t really know what you were doing ahead of time, it’s just different,” said Connelly.

Katrina Tarson, theater teacher, believed the musical was a challenge her students were ready to take on. “I chose this specific show because the music is very challenging and the storyline is really cute. We definitely have the talent for it this year which is why this year was the year to do it.”.

Along with the musical being so complex and different from other shows performed, there was added pressure due to the limited time frame. The theater department needed to work strenuously to ensure the musical would be ready by show time.

“Normally, we have three months to rehearse a musical, but we only had five weeks. It was a lot of time management, that became important. We met usually four days a week after school to rehearse, and we broke that down into either an acting rehearsal, musical rehearsal, or dancing rehearsal. Then eventually we were running the whole play or musical every day, including the fake audience volunteers,” said Tarson.

Loren Wait, senior, who played 12-year-old Marcy Parks in the musical, said some changes were made to make the musical more relatable for the audience. “We changed some jokes to fit Leesville. We thought that it would make the audience feel even more connected,” said Wait.

The theater department’s next musical will take place in the spring, which will feature a much larger cast.


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