THE audience members are very much part of musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, with some taking part on stage in the spelling competition.
While a spelling bee might seem an unusual subject for a musical, the show has been a hit with watchers and performers since it premiered on Broadway in 2005 and ran for almost three years.
That popularity was evident when Newcastle Young People’s Theatre held auditions for a production of the musical that opens on February 5.The quality of those seeking roles led to YPT and the show’s director, Aaron Taylor, selecting two casts who will share the four-weekend season.
While the six spelling bee finalists are 12 and 13 years old, the actors playing them are invariably in their early 20s and they have often had the same experiences when going through puberty that the characters reveal in offstage moments and flashbacks, with those experiences often impacting on the way they handle the words they are asked to spell.
Some actors play multiple roles. Hannah Buck and Phoebe Clark, for example, are Rona, an astute realtor and former spelling bee winner who is now the bee’s moderator, and also appear in a song as the mother of one of the contestants who is overseas on a spiritual quest but comes into the girl’s mind while she is waiting to go on stage.
That troubled girl, Olive, who feels neglected byher parents, is played by Taylor Reece and Maddie Watts. Taylornotes that Olive sees the spelling bee as her chance to show the parents that she is more capable than they see her as being.
The other contestants are: astute and athletic Chip (Hamish Pickering; Nicholas Hamilton), the defending spelling bee champion; Barfee (Tom Rodgers; Harold Phipps), who develops a crush on Olive; hippy family member Coneybear (Anna Lambert; Nicholas Thoroughgood); Schwartzy, who has a pair of gay fathers (Amy McDonald; Nicola Eenink); and championship girl rugby player, Marcy (Lucy Scott; Maddie Richards).
The spelling bee management team includes a high school vice-principal, Douglas Panch (Theo Rule; Jackson Vaughan), the competition judge, and Mitch Mahoney (Sam De Lyall; Kirralee McAlpine), the comfort counsellor who is a convict doing the job as community service.
Audience members interested in being spelling bee competitors can contact YPT ([email protected]论坛) or talk to staff on the night.
The showplays at 7.30pm on February 5, 6, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27,and 2pm shows onFebruary 13, 20 and 27. Tickets: $18 (opening night $22). Bookings: ypt.org419论坛; 4961 4895. SPELLBOUND: Phoebe Clark is one of the performers in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee production at YPT.