H-Y-S-T-E-R-I-C-A-L is the word of choice that comes to mind when describing the Tony Award winning play The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. This laugh-out-loud performance takes place at the Theatre at the Center located in Munster, IN. and will continue until August 18th. We are given an insight into the lives of six students, played by adults, competing to win a spelling competition. Along the way, we learn a great deal about the characters and the difficulties they encounter as adolescents growing up in today’s society.
From start to finish, laughter instantly filled the room. However, the choices of some of the words given even made me question my spelling ability. Crowd participation played an unexpected role and was executed perfectly. The cast was able to use their improvisational skills to create a dialogue as though it had been rehearsed with members of the crowd a hundred times.
Throughout the musical, we learn about the struggles of each student within their personal life outside the spelling bee. Although these are serious and very relatable issues that young adults must face in everyday life, the cast was able to address each situation using creative humor.
Leaf Coney Bear (Patrick Tierney) for example, captures your attention right from the start with his homemade cape and mismatched outfit. He displays outrageous acts around the stage but remains completely focused while spelling each word. Coney Bear injects a great deal of energy and spontaneity on stage despite his lack of confidence and uncertainty throughout the competition.
Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere (Landree Fleming) is a spunky girl who just so happens to have a noticeable lisp. You are given an insight into her home life as she continues to bicker back and forth with her overbearing gay fathers.
Olive Ostrovsky (Nicole Miller) tends to be a soft spoken young lady who absolutely loves and lives to spell. She longs to have a relationship with her mom and dad by winning the competition and trying to capture the attention of her parents.
We are also introduced to William Barfee’ (Jonathan Wagner) who is not your average student or average speller as we come to find out. His last name is continuously misspoken which creates a great deal of anger within the young speller. He is not the most confident student you will ever meet and at times is a “Debbie Downer.” William turns to his trusty foot in order to spell each word in a way you would not imagine and has to realize that maybe his foot is not the solution to his problems.
Marcy Park (Rose Le Tran) is somewhat of a “know it all.” If you think back to your school days, you can imagine the same student raising his or her hand for every answer. While everyone can relate to having an individual like her in your school, she internally struggles with herself and has to find out what truly matters in life.
Chip Tolentino (Frank J. Paul) plays the role of an over confident Boy Scout to perfection. Chip faces reality when he first notices girls and feels a great deal of discomfort while staring into the crowd at a pretty girl.
Director David Perkovich creates a musical comedy that will have you roaring with laughter. He portrays each character in a way that makes you want to be their friend.
1040 Ridge Rd Munster, IN 46321