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Advanced Drama Presents The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Erik+Olson+and+Keenan+Taw+during+the+scene+where+Taw+misspells+a+word.+
Erik Olson and Keenan Taw during the scene where Taw misspells a word.

Erik Olson and Keenan Taw during the scene where Taw misspells a word.

Erik Olson and Keenan Taw during the scene where Taw misspells a word.

Juliana Judge and Shinji Lin

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Advanced Drama’s comedy-musical The 25th Annual Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee ran from Wednesday, September 13, to Saturday, September 16 and was a large success with the turnout and the Drama Department is wasting no time as they prepare for their next production, the all-school musical Fiddler on the Roof.

Based on the 2005 Broadway production, music and lyrics by William Finn and book by Rachel Sheinkin, Spelling Bee tells the story of 12 elementary and middle school students competing in a spelling bee in the Putnam County region.

The set, created by Stage Crew in three weeks, used six layers of paint to simulate wood-paneled floors of a gymnasium. In fact, the whole team had very little time to prepare. Auditions were held just before school started, and the show came together in about four weeks. Despite this quick set-up, their work was met with great success.

“We had a ton of people come up and were like, ‘Oh my gosh! We didn’t know there wasn’t a second weekend!  We want to see it more times,’” senior Eric Olson, who played the part of an unfriendly spelling bee counselor, said.  “That’s pretty cool.”

This production of Spelling Bee is faithful to the 2005 Broadway original: a story of a spelling bee, unexpectedly filled with risqué jokes despite its innocent title, toned down for a high school audience, served with a commentary on religion and the high school social scene.  Since every single actor remains on the stage for the entirety of the show, the cast must assimilate completely into their characters, down to the tiny actions and mannerisms, while delivering jokes, singing and dancing to musical numbers, and spelling difficult, esoteric words.

Some of the cast took time after the recent run of the musical to describe their feelings.

“This was one of those shows, where as an actor, I felt that when I was on stage, it didn’t really feel like acting,” explained Ariana Prappas, a senior playing the school principal.  “I felt like I got so into my character when I walked on stage.  It was almost as if I was doing things as if I was my character.  A lot of the impulses became more organic because we were on stage the whole time.  It was a lot of fun to really exist in this character’s world.”

The musical was $10 for adults and $5 for children, except Friday, in which SMHS students could watch for free.

After a well-received run of the musical The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee, the Drama Department is starting to ramp up their next production.   The drama department has kicked off its year with a fantastic musical, but they aren’t done yet. This year’s all-school musical production, which traditionally takes several months to prepare, will be Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein, a classic and popular tale of a Jewish family set in early 1900s in Russia. Within a few months, the department will be ready to stage Fiddler.

“We’re also having a Fiddler movie night the day before auditions.  It’ll be sort of a sing-along,” Olson said, “so people can be more prepared and understand the story.”

The movie night took place on Friday, September 29 and auditions followed on Saturday, September 30 and Monday, October 2.

If the drama department can produce something as well-crafted and talented as Spelling Bee in just a few weeks, Fiddler on the Roof is bound to be a hit.

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Advanced Drama Presents The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee