The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Registration Roster

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Registration Roster Playbill.com takes an exclusive look at William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin and Rebecca Feldman's new musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, focusing on all nine major characters and the actors who portray them.

Bee stars: Sarah Saltzberg, Deborah S. Craig, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Dan Folger, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jose Llana, Derrick Baskin, Lisa Howard and Jay Reiss.
Bee stars: Sarah Saltzberg, Deborah S. Craig, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Dan Folger, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jose Llana, Derrick Baskin, Lisa Howard and Jay Reiss.

Contestant # 1

Name: Logainne Schwarzandgrubeniere
Age: 10
School: Magna Magnet
Spelling Bee technique: Forearm writing
Background: The youngest competitor and daughter of two fathers: Mr. Schwarz and Mr. Grubeniere.

 

Played by:

Actor: Sarah Saltzberg
School: Broad Meadow
Favorite Subject: English
Favorite Teacher: 1st grade teacher Ms. Kramer and 2nd grade teacher Ms. Delvelle
Spelling Bee experience: None. "I was a terrible speller."
Background: "I was sort of loud and fun and popular when I was in grade school. Very bossy, I used to run my own school afterschool for the kids in the neighborhood. I used to make up workbooks for them, God only knows why they did it, but they did and during the summer!"
Best part of being Logainne: "The faux sophistication and the intensity. I love the intensity, [though] it's exhausting. She's like a grown up in a 10 year-old's body, but she still is vulnerable and a 10-year-old at the end of the day.

 

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Contestant # 7

Name: Marcy Park
Age: 13
School: Our Lady of Intermittent Sorrows
Background: National finalist for Virginia who speaks six languages among a bounty of other talents.

 

Played by:

Actor: Deborah S. Craig
School: Carlton Palmore Elementary, Lakeland Highlands Junior High
Favorite Subject: Vocabulary "We used to get words from Reader's Digest everyday. I remember learning sesquipedalian (having many syllables)."
Favorite Teacher: Mr. Coords (he was the teacher of Vocabulary)
Spelling Bee experience: Won three spelling bees. "I know I lost one on 'exercise.'"
Background: "I was my character. So much, except that I was a little goofier. She's not as much of the class clown I was. I was in the gifted program, a straight-A student, won the jumprope contest, handwriting contest, a cheerleader, I ran track, a concert pianist, played softball, science club, student government vice-president."
Best part of being Marcy: "I like that she is a multi-faceted child, she's not what she appears to be. And I feel she also breaks the stereotype of what people perceive her to be."

 

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Contestant # 11

Name: Olive Ostrovsky
Age: 12
School: Garrison Elementary
Spelling Bee technique: Silent talking into her hand
Background: Daughter of a busy-working father and mother who is on an extended ashram in India.

 

Played by:

Actor: Celia Keenan-Bolger
School: Cornelius Golightly Magnet School (Detroit, MI)
Favorite Subject: Math and Reading
Favorite Teacher: Third grade teacher Sandra Petapiece
Spelling Bee experience: Class spelling bees. "I was no good at it."
Background: "I was like one of four white kids in my elementary school. Oddly, because I was a minority, I was very popular in an obscure way. I was a talker."
Best part of being Olive: "Her vulnerability. I think we're very vulnerable as adults and it's something that is not looked upon in a good way. And as a kid, I like being able to reflect something on stage that audiences can relate to. She's rooted in a very emotional place, a little more normal, more grounded."

 

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Contestant # 13

Name: William Barfee
Age: 12
School: Cold Spring Country Day
Spelling Bee technique: "The Magic Foot"
Background: Returning finalist with a mucous-membrane disorder who was eliminated last year due to health reasons.

 

Played by:

Actor: Dan Fogler
School: Windmill Montessori School (Brooklyn, NY)
Favorite Subject: Art, Science
Favorite Teacher: Play director Ms. Eliasoph and young radical Mr. Rockwell
Spelling Bee experience: One bee. "I was so nervous, I spelled 'jewel' wrong and it's been haunting me for my life."
Background: "I was a terrible student. I got by in a very 'Ferris Bueller'-y kind of way; a lot of charm, the class clown. I respected my elders, so they let me slide on other stuff."
Best part of being William: "The feeling of getting lost in that age again. Being a kid, looking around and really feeling like 'God, I'm on the playground again.' Such a nice alive feeling. And he is strongly based on my growing up, my brother had a lot of allergies and problems. He's an alter ego for another one of my family growing up, so I love him like a brother."

 

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Contestant # 17

Name: Leaf Coneybear
Age: 11
School: Home school
Spelling Bee technique: Visceral expulsion
Background: Home-schooled second runner up of the Putnam Basin district. One of seven earthy-named children.

 

Played by:

Actor: Jesse Tyler Ferguson
School: Our Lady of Fatima (Albuquerque, NM)
Favorite Subject: English, Arts & Crafts
Favorite Teacher: First grade teacher Sister Edith
Spelling Bee experience: Classroom bees. "I don't even remember making out of the first round."
Background: "I was extremely shy. I faded into the background, tried not to make a scene, tried not to draw attention to myself."
Best part of being Leaf: "I like his simplicity, that everything is surface with him. He's a nature-loving mama's boy. And his inability to edit. In that age, you just don't know how to edit. There aren't a lot of boundaries."

 

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Contestant # 21

Name: Charlito "Chip" Tolentino
Age: 13
Background: Last year's returning champion. Also a little league pitcher.

 

Played by:
Actor: Jose Llana
School: Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology (Virginia)
Favorite Subject: Music and Math
Favorite Teacher: Chorus teacher Ms. Clark
Spelling Bee experience: Third grade bee. "It burned me because I got eliminated on the word 'gardener.'"
Background: "I was that loud, fat kid in the corner. I was pretty heavy, I really didn't discover sports until high school, so I was pretty chubby with big thick glasses. The overachiever [with] the mullet haircut. Cracking jokes all the time."
Best part of being Chip: "Truthfully, I just love this ensemble, it's such a great ensemble piece. And, obviously, my song is a big payoff for the build up, sort of a release you might say, for me in the show. I enjoy there's sort of no fourth wall, so the audience can become part of the show."

 

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Comfort Counselor

Name: Mitchell Mahoney
Background: Fulfilling community service work with the bee.

 

Played by:

Actor: Derrick Baskin
School: Mascoutah Elementary (Mascoutah, IL)
Favorite Subject: Math
Favorite Teacher: Geography teacher Mr. Baclar
Spelling Bee experience: Seventh grade bee. "I lost on 'piece'. I spelled the wrong one, 'peace.'"
Background: "I fell through the cracks. I was a band guy, played the trombone. I was not geeky, but not a popular kid; too geeky to be a popular kid and too popular to be a geeky kid.
Best part of being Mitch: "When he first enters, he's not interested in the kids and I like that he kind of develops attention for the kids, that he could actually comfort someone."

 

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Bee Host

Name: Rona Lisa Peretti
Background: A top Putnam County realtor serving her ninth consecutive year as host and a former bee champ herself.

 

Played by:

Actor: Lisa Howard
School: King Elementary School (Akron, OH)
Favorite Subject: Language Arts
Favorite Teacher: Mrs. Landon (over a few grades)
Spelling Bee experience: None. Didn't pass the entry test. "I think because I was a bad test-taker."
Background: "I was a tomboy, I was definitely athletic. All my friends were all good at sports because that was the 'cool' thing to be good at. I have two older brothers, so I had to be competitive."
Best part of being Rona: "I enjoy the almost improv of it because with each of the new [audience] guest volunteers, I don't say the same things about them. It definitely keeps you on your toes. And plus, I get to sing a lot in the show."

 

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Bee Pronouncer

Name: Douglas Panch
Background: Last-minute replacement judge and Vice Principal of Lake Hemingway-Dos Passos Junior High.

 

Played by:

Actor: Jay Reiss
School: Parkway Elementary (Plainview, Long Island)
Favorite Subject: Science
Favorite Teacher: Mrs. (Bunny) Kleinfeld and the hot teacher Mrs. Lubod
Spelling Bee experience: None.
Background: "I was a 'walker.' That means that I lived so close to school that I could walk. I loved when the woman would announce 'Everyone on the red/yellow bus, you are here and walkers, you are free to go.' Privilege, freedom! I was very average. In grade school, you're not really formed, you're still like finding your way."
Best part of being Douglas: "I enjoy all the guest speller interaction, that it changes nightly. Anything can happen!"

The cast of <i>The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.</i>
The cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Photo by Joan Marcus