Off-Broadway Buzz: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Musical Opens

News   Off-Broadway Buzz: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Musical Opens
 
Contestants vie for the thrill of victory and fear the agony of defeat as The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee — a new musical from composer William Finn — opens Off-Broadway Feb. 7.
Dan Fogler in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Dan Fogler in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Photo by Joan Marcus

Finn's fellow Falsettos Tony Award-winning collaborator James Lapine (Into The Woods) directs the new musical which began performance at Second Stage Theatre Jan. 11 for a run currently slated through March 6.

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. Among the pre-pubescent brainiacs are multi-lingual national finalist Marcy Park, Putnam Basin district second runner up Leaf Coneybear, Magna Magnet for the gifted and unusual representative Logainne Schwarzandgrubeniere, last year's finalist (eliminated for health reasons) William Barfee, newcomer Olive Ostrovsky and last year's county champion Chip Tolentino.

Also on hand at the showdown are comfort counselor Mitch Mahoney, longtime local Bee hostess (and former champ) Rona Lisa Peretti and Lake Hemingway-Dos Passos Junior High Vice Principal Douglas Panch.

Based on an original play C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E by The Farm, the musical made its world premiere production — under the direction of Michael Unger and Rebecca Feldman — at Sheffield, Massachusetts' Barrington Stage Company in July 2004.

The cast of Spelling Bee includes the original Barrington cast that featured Jesse Tyler Ferguson (On the Town), Celia Keenan-Bolger (Summer of 42, The Light in the Piazza), Derrick Baskin (Memphis), Deborah S. Craig (WaVe, The Karaoke Show), Lisa Howard (Les Misérables national tour) and original C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E castmates Dan Fogler (Joe Fearless), Jay Reiss and Sarah Saltzberg (The Donkey Show) as well as Flower Drum Song star Jose Llana. Featuring music and lyrics by Finn with a book by Rachel Sheinkin (Striking 12) from a concept by Rebecca Feldman, the musical features choreography by Dan Knechtges. Vadim Feichtner handles musical direction and orchestrations are by Michael Starobin. The design team includes Beowulf Boritt (scenic), Jennifer Caprio (costumes), Natasha Katz (lighting) and Dan Moses Schreier (sound). The production stage manager is Andrea Testani.

Tickets to The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Second Stage, 307 West 43rd Street (just off 8th Ave.) are on sale at the box office and by phone at (212) 246-4422 or (800) 766-6048. For more information, visit www.SecondStageTheatre.com.

A Scene from <i>The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee</i>
A Scene from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Photo by Joan Marcus
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