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. By the end of its run, the show will have played 21 previews and 1,136 regular performances.
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.
The production had recouped its initial investment of $3.5 million 18 weeks after opening on Broadway. As of Sept. 23, the musical had welcomed 4,000 guest spellers onstage to test their word knowledge. Among the more famous to have participated in recent shows include Broadway stars Julie Andrews, Lea Salonga, Raul Esparza and Brian Stokes Mitchell as well as Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, National Spelling Bee Champ Kelly Close, Bay Street Theatre co-founder (and Andrews' daughter) Emma Walton Hamilton and (at the 2005 Tony Awards) Al Sharpton.
The work has toured to San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles (with the original cast) and is currently on the second leg of its national tour.
The current Broadway cast features Jennifer Simard, Aaron J. Albano, Stanley Bahorek, Jenni Barber, Jared Gertner, Sara Inbar, Greta Lee, Daniel Pearce and James Monroe.
For more information on the musical, visit spellingbeethemusical.com.