The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Musical

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Cristine Rosada

There is a shiny metal set of bleachers on one side of the room and a giant scoreboard on the adjacent wall with flashing red numbers. However, this is not a gymnasium. It’s the set of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, this year’s musical production.

The most recent musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, had performances on January 29th-30th as well as three more performances on February 5th, 6th and 8th. Attendees were encouraged to buy tickets on the Klein Oak Theatre website due to the limited amount of seats in the auditorium. In fact, the show even sold out on February 6th. The musical is a combination of dance, choir, band, orchestra and theatre in order to put on a practically professional and very intricate show.

“I felt this musical was an interesting challenge, even for our most experienced actors,” director Matthew Robinson said. “It was fun to see them grow as performers because of this challenge.”

Unlike many of the productions the theatre department puts on, the musical this year wasn’t heavily plot based. Instead, the musical focused more on the development of round characters to intrigue the audience. Not only were these characters detailed, but their emotional progress throughout the spelling bee allowed the audience to connect with them on a deeper, empathetic level.

“I absolutely loved having audience members on stage with us,” sophomore Gabriel Goodman said. “Being able to break down the fourth wall was really fun.”

One very significant characteristic of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was its use of audience participation. Before the start of the show, four audience members would volunteer to be “contestants” and participate by spelling in the first act. Each participant is required to spell several words until they miss a word and receive a musical goodbye from the cast. This interactive element allowed the actors to break the metaphorical fourth wall, the invisible wall dividing the world of the characters from the audience, which grabbed attention as well as lots of laughs from the rest of the spectators.

“My favorite part of the musical was the first day the orchestra and chorus came together on stage,” Goodman said. “Having both pieces of the puzzle connected was such a cool experience.”

Another noteworthy part about the musicals in general is that they allow several organizations to come together to put on a spectacular production. Unlike the plays that involve only the theatre, the musicals combine the work and members from choir, dance, theatre, orchestra and band to put on an amazing performance of sound and movement. There are not many school activities that are able to combine so many different groups to put together a well-planned performance like the musical. This is one of the defining things that gives the musicals their unique learning experience and appeal to those who watch them.

“I love the fact that the educational theatre we have here allows all students an equal opportunity to experience theatre,” junior Karoline Thomas said. “The department is very encouraging of students who want to join and put in the time and effort to be successful.”

All students are able to try out for the next year’s theatre production class at the end of the previous year, which allows many different and hardworking students to be a part of the program. Production students are required to audition for certain plays, giving them more auditioning opportunities and making auditions a learning experience. In addition, all production students participate in a performance event called Kabaret which is not only used to raise funds for the department, but it to give students who participate a chance to be on stage and show their talents.

“I feel this play is very relatable to peoples’ middle school experiences,” Robinson said. “The nostalgia of the piece is a huge pull for people to see the show.”

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee does not stick to either comedy or drama but rather combines both elements in order to captivate and tug on the heart strings of the audience members. This interactive musical is a must see for anyone interested in theatre and even just music itself because of its fun songs and fascinating character development. The show has also allowed its cast and crew to become good friends, tying the musical together with their camaraderie.

“I felt like everyone really connected in order to put on such good show,” Thomas said. “I hope we can maintain these close relationship in future shows.”