By Ciarese De Torres
As auditions for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee were called, news buzzed around campus about the upcoming musical. The show is centered on a group of six adolescents competing in a spelling bee run by three similarly peculiar adults.
Obtaining the rights for the production was not easy, according to Ann Turino, director of the upcoming show. “In the world of musical theatre, we have to look into who else is performing the show … So we lucked out because the show is available,” she said.
Dr. Bosner, the head theatre department, was also largely responsible for handling the rights for the show and other previous productions.
Aspiring actors that lined up for a role in the production had to arrive at certain time slots and fill out audition packets before singing, dancing, and reading monologues aloud. “It’s really goofy because you have a bunch of mostly adult human beings playing children. So we had to ask them to do a lot of silly things and a lot of silly improv,” Turino said.
Acting and improv, however, are not the only qualifications for the fellow spellers. Musical director and Turino’s partner, Kristen Cooley, states, “Musically, I’m looking for their ability to sing on pitch, keep a solid rhythm and hold harmony.”
The musical also focuses on bringing together an ensemble cast. “This is very much an ensemble piece, so they have to constantly be listening to each other,” Cooley said.
When rehearsals began, the cast was excited for this new experience. Marley Brettschneider, a sophomore nursing major, is playing a major character named Olive Ostrovsky. “She’s smart, but very quiet and secretly dorky,” she said.
However, the actors only make one half of the show. The crew must perform tasks such as set-up, sound, lighting, props, costumes, and more. “It’s a little spastic and all over the place. But I want to keep that in the choreography,” Sarah Burton, the show’s choreographer, said.
Performing in the black theater allow the audience to watch the performance from five feet away. This allows the cast to interact with those in attendance. “We’re going to have audience members participate in the Spelling Bee … it’s definitely gonna be a different night because of the improv and audience participation. It’s so silly and fun,” Turino said.
Photo by Ciarese De Torres