It is now entirely possible that two musicals about spelling bee competitions could hit New York during the same season. William Finn's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee recently premiered to great reviews at the Barrington Stage Company in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Finn, playwright Rachel Sheinkin and conceiver Rebecca Feldman spoofed competitive spelling bees with comic numbers and quirky characters. The production, which featured Derrick Baskin, Deborah S. Craig, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Dan Fogler, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Lisa Howard, Jay Reiss, Sarah Saltzberg and Robb Sapp, was co-directed by Feldman and Michael Unger.
USA Today reported July 30 that Disney is also getting into a spelling bee state of mind and plans to develop a musical version of the acclaimed documentary "Spellbound." That film followed several kids throughout the country as they competed in the National Spelling Bee. Disney's Thomas Schumacher told USA Today, "I love the idea of celebrating these kids who are gigantic heroes in their own little world, even though they're considered nerds. It's built around their journey, but it's also about their parents. You're dealing with people from different ethnic and economic backgrounds. There's no connection between being well-to-do and achievement."
No creative team has been announced for the Disney musical.