‘Spelling Bee’ Kicks off Theater Season

“The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee” opens the Youngstown State University Theater’s season this Friday. The production is centered on six students as they compete for a chance to go to the national spelling bee championships.

By Billy Ludt

The dread of standing in front of a crowd and spelling out a multisyllabic word is shed in a new, comedic light in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Bliss Hall’s Ford Theater at Youngstown State University will open its 2015-16 season with this musical production.

“Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a musical comedy that features a book by author Rachel Sheinkin and a musical score by composer William Finn. The production won the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Book.

The show itself centers around six participants in said spelling bee. According to the press release, “‘Putnam County Spelling Bee’ is ‘fast-paced wildly funny.’”

The release went on to say the play is “a riotous ride complete with audience participation, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a delightful den of comedic genius.”

Theater staff and actors have been working on the production for about six weeks.

Angelique Tanner, a musical theater major, is playing Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, an 8-year-old student in the running to make it to the spelling bee championships.

Schwartzandgrubenierre is, as Tanner put it, preppy, political and just wants to make her parents proud by winning the spelling bee.

“I am feeling anxious, nervous but most importantly excited,” Tanner said. “We have all worked so hard to make these characters come to life and adding audience members is the final piece to our puzzle. I couldn’t be happier with the work we have done, and I can’t wait to show it to everyone who comes out to see it.”

Tanner said that audience members can expect to laugh in their seats and even shed a tear or two.

Live music for the production comes from the pit orchestra, comprised of senior piano major Christin McKenzie and junior percussion major Nathan Negro.

Matthew Mazuroski, assistant professor of theater, is directing “Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

“It has been a real blast to work with this design team, cast and crew as we have created these wonderfully memorable characters,” Mazuroski said in a press release. “And even though all of the cast are college students, it has been a joy to see them transform into these 10 and 11-year old children.”

Megan Jones, a YSU theater major, is stage managing “Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

“I will be queuing lights and sound,” Jones said. “And if anything goes wrong in the show, I will be the one to fix it.”

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” runs from Oct. 9 to 11, and Oct. 16 to 18. Friday and Saturday, performances start at 7:30 p.m. and matinee shows on Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at www.ysu.tix.com.