The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Review

Story by Madison Wilder, Managing Editor
Photo courtesy of

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Aquinas College Performing Arts Center this past weekend was a success. The one-act musical, was musically composed by Rebecca Feldman and lyrics were written by William Finn, based off of a book by Rachel Sheinkin and as well as additional material from playwright Jay Reiss, originally produced on Broadway in 2005 and recreated by the Saints was filled with humor, magic feet, and a cast who knew how to act.

The Bee is a single act comprised of an hour and a half long musical spelling bee, where each of the contestants have a certain type of quirkiness to compensate for their daily struggles and explains pressure of being in the spelling bee.

To begin the play, the contestants were brought to the stage, beginning with the actual cast and after each unique character was seated, several more contestants, who were preselected from the audience members were called to the stage. The audience participation added to the amusement of the already humorous show. Volunteers were then asked to participate as if they were in a real spelling bee, getting ‘level one’ words ranging from ‘cow’ for some, and for other unfortunate contestants, ‘triscaidecafobia.’ About the first half of the play centered around getting to know the main contestants, with whimsical parts regarding the volunteers and some “R-Rated” jokes about impromptu erections and inappropriate staff members.

After all of the volunteer contestants were ejected from the competition, the remainder of the musical consisted of the cast going through the motions of the spelling bee, including showing off their strange styles of spelling including William Morris Barfée’s ‘magic foot,’ a style of spelling out the words on the ground using some fancy footwork to decipher the letters, and Logainne “Schwarzy” Schwartz and Grubenierre’s style of writing the words rapidly along her forearm before spitting out the letters through a serious speech impediment.

Despite the humor and innuendos the play was littered with, the story line was drawn out and had several uncomfortable shifts from joyful quirky songs to somber scenes. Overall, the musical cast was stellar in their portrayal of all characters and they brought the best out of a relatively long and somewhat emotional spelling bee.


About the Writer…

IMG_4061 copyMadison Wilder is a first-year student from Grand Haven, Michigan. Her interest and hobbies include swimming, reading, being outsides, and reading/editing newspapers.

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