It is possible, that this is the 25th time that I have seen The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee over the last 3 years. This time is at Huntington Playhouse, under the humorous direction of Dave MacKeigan. This production works as a result of a good company of actors, and some standout performances.The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a one-act musical comedy conceived by Rebecca Feldman with music and lyrics by William Finn, a book by Rachel Sheinkin and additional material by Jay Reiss. The show centers on a fictional spelling bee set in a geographically ambiguous Putnam Valley Middle School. The six quirky adolescents that compete in the Bee are Chip Tolentino (Matt Langenhop), Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere (Muna Al-Nimer), Leaf Coneybear (Tony Heffner), William Barfee (Will Crosby), Marcy Park (Sarah Menser), and Olive Ostrovsky (Jackie Luthy), They are assisted by three equally quirky grown-ups; Vice Principal Douglas Pance (Bill May), Rona Lisa Perretti (Colleen Zettler), and Mitch Mahoney (Jake Ingrassia). There are some doubling of parts going on, such as Jesus (Langenhop), Carl Dad (Heffner), Olive’s mother (Zettler), and Dan Dad/Olive’s Dad (Ingrassia). This is a full car load of craziness to enjoy
Director Dave MacKeigan gives the evening a great sense of simplicity and gentle humor. His casting creates the feel of American Gothic gone wild. Wonderful characters, and an Adult panel that is just fabulous. Music Director David W. Coxe is on the keyboard (Kira Seaton filled in on the night I was there, and did a great job), and provided able melodic assistance, but I would have preferred a fuller sound with a small combo. Choreographer Jill Smith handled the cast well, and matched movements with varying degrees of ability, but produced charming numbers.
As the adults in the show, Zettler and May are hysterical. Zettler has a beautiful, powerful voice and charm for days. I don’t remember hearing her sing before, but I am glad I did. May is a scream. His delivery is perfect, and reminds me of the classic comedians that never had to work to hard for a laugh, they just created them with natural ability. He killed me. So enjoyable. As a quasi adult, Ingrassia brings some great bouncer realness to the proceedings, and has a blast with his semi-spiritual number.
Leading the kids is Heffner. He has a fantastic young voice, and great comedic chops. He definitely lit up the stage with his antics. Crosby continues to delightfully grow as an actor, and certainly went to another level with this show. His character is a hot mess of fun, and it must take him an hour to Un-Barfee his face. Solid singing and great frenetic choices. Luthy brings a beautiful down to earth quality. She has a lovely voice,which shines in the “I Love You” song. A complete delight. Langenhop is quirky and adorable fun. His transformation into a young gentleman, is a scream. He brings comedic angst in spades. Al-Nimer works her hair and character to great effect in the show. And Menser shows her considerable dance forte in her solo number, with entertaining results. This group is a fun bunch.
Production Team: Stage Manager Diane Ford, Dance Captain Sarah Menser (no surprise here), Set Design Tom Meyrose, Light and Sound Design Chuck Tisdale, and Costume Design Judy MacKeigan (Nice creative looks),
This is a solid show at Huntington. Enjoy it!
Please credit Tpography.com with any quotes.
$10-$20 Reserved Seating
28601 Lake Road
Bay Village, OH 44140