Mo Rocca, Jennifer Simard and More to Enter Broadway Spelling Bee

News   Mo Rocca, Jennifer Simard and More to Enter Broadway Spelling Bee Comedian Mo Rocca and actress Jennifer Simard will be part of the new Broadway cast of the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee starting April 17.

Mo Rocca will join the cast of Spelling Bee.
Mo Rocca will join the cast of Spelling Bee. Photo by Crown Publishing

Cast members from the San Francisco and Boston runs of Spelling Bee will join their former castmate Jared Gertner (Anatomy 1968, My Favorite Year), who currently appears in the Broadway run of the hit musical at Circle in the Square Theatre.

Rocca — a special correspondent to "The Tonight Show" (and formerly of "The Daily Show") — will take on the role of Bee word pronouncer, Vice Principal Douglas Panch, for a limited engagement. Simard — comedic actress seen Off-Broadway in Forbidden Broadway and The Thing About Men — will reprise her turn from the national tour as Bee coordinator Rona Lisa Perretti.

Also joining the cast will be Aaron J. Albano (Wicked national tour, Bombay Dreams) as Chip Tolentino, Stanley Bahorek (Big River national tour, A Little Night Music) as Leaf Coneybear, Jenni Barber (Henry and Mudge, The High Life) as Olive Ostrovsky, Sara Inbar (Mamma Mia!, Lizzie Borden) as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, Greta Lee (No Boundaries - NYMF) as Marcy Park and James Monroe Iglehart (Showboat national tour, Memphis) as Mitch Mahoney.

Rocca — who has also been seen on CBS' "Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood," NPR's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!," MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" and Food Network's "Iron Chef America" — has some stage experience. He starred and co-adapted the 2005 San Francisco Symphony productions of Gershwin's Of Thee I Sing and Let 'em Eat Cake and appeared in the Southeast Asian tour of Grease as Doody.

* The musical directed by James Lapine (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods) opened on Broadway May 2, 2005, at the Circle in the Square Theatre following previews from April 15.

Original cast members Derrick Baskin, Deborah S. Craig, Lisa Howard, Jose Llana and Sarah Saltzberg are currently joined by Jared Gertner, Barrett Foa, Greg Stuhr and Jessica Snow Wilson in the cast.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee pits ten contestants (six actors, four audience members) against each other in a battle for the championship of the local spelling competition.

Spelling Bee was based on C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E, an original play created by Rebecca Feldman and the comedy troupe The Farm. Composer-lyricist William Finn provides the score to the musical incarnation with a book by librettist Rachel Sheinkin.

The musical earned six Tony Award nominations, including Best Score, Best Book, Best Direction, Best Featured Actor (Dan Fogler) and Featured Actress (Celia Keenan Bolger) as well as a nomination for the top prize of Best Musical. Fogler and book writer Sheinkin took home awards for their work.

For more information on the musical, visit www.spellingbeethemusical.com.