UW-WC presents The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Musical Comedy Recreates Middle School Spelling Bee

UW-Washington County will be presenting The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on two weekends, Friday and Saturday, November 5-6 and 12-13 at 7:30pm in the campus theatre. The Tony award winning musical comedy is directed and designed by Brad Ford, UW-WC Communications and Theatre Professor.  

Cast members include: Sheena Delong, Campbellsport as Olive; Ben Dern, Shorewood as Chip; Melissa Hammen, West Bend as Marcy; Kris Holly, West Bend as Panch; Amber Kelling, West Bend as Schwarzy; Ryan Klug, Waupun as Barfee; Carl Liden, Waukesha as Mitch; Emily Timm, Grafton as Rona and Brian Tuel, Beaver Dam as Coney Bear.

Behind the scenes will be: David Gasperetti, assistant director and lighting; Ginger Starr, stage manager; Tom Utschig, vocal music director and sound; Lisa Schnabel, choreographer; Lisa Rowe, scenic artist; Pat Fox Schindler, costumes; and Carl Liden, props. Other crew members include: Charles Edwards, Nickolas Gryga, Aaron Hetzel, Kris Holly, Jill Hockerman, Aaron Olson, Kayla Pingel, Samantha Starr and Kelsey Westphal.

Anyway you spell it, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S.  The story revolves around a group of young middle school spellers who compete for the top prize at the annual spelling bee competition at Putnam Valley Middle School. The tension mounts as the six quirky adolescents cope with overzealous parents, sabotage attempts, teenage crushes and the awfulness of puberty.  With its enormously appealing cast of lovable misfits, nerds, and neurotics, the play captures the anxiety, excitement, and heartache that makes growing up so painful and yet so wonderful.  A unique part about the production is that each evening prior the show, audience members are encouraged to sign up to participate, and several will be chosen to be “spellers” on stage with the cast.

Based on a book written by Rachel Sheinkin, the play was conceived by Rebecca Feldman with music and lyrics by William Finn. The 2005 Broadway production earned good reviews and was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning two, including Best Book.

“Can you spell irresistible?” According to The New York Times, “Spelling Bee is a Chorus Line with pimples.” The Wall Street Journal called it a “rarity of rarities – a super-smart musical that is also a bona-fide crowd pleaser.”  The Associated Press put it simply, “How do you spell h-i-t?”

For ticket sales and reservations, phone the main office at 262-335-5208 (Monday through Friday 8am-4:30pm). Tickets will also be available at the door (while quantities last).  Tickets are $12 adults and $9 for seniors (over 62) or youth (under 18). UW-Washington County is located at 400 University Drive in West Bend. Free parking is available.


Sue Bausch