Original Spelling Bee Cast to Reunite for Musical's L.A. Debut

By Andrew Gans
and Ernio Hernandez
03 Apr 2007

Celia Keenan-Bolger in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Celia Keenan-Bolger in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Photo by Joan Marcus

When The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee makes its Los Angeles premiere at the Wadsworth Theatre, it will do so with the musical's original Broadway cast, including Tony Award winner Dan Fogler as William Barfee.

Presented by Broadway/L.A., the four-week engagement at the Wadsworth, located on the Veteran Administration Grounds in Brentwood, will run May 24-June 17 with an official opening May 27. The entire original Broadway cast, who originated their roles at Off-Broadway's Second Stage, will take part in the limited run: Derrick Baskin (Mitch Mahoney), Deborah S. Craig (Marcy Park), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Leaf Coneybear), Dan Fogler (William Barfee), Lisa Howard (Rona Lisa Peretti), Celia Keenan-Bolger (Olive Ostrovsky), Jose Llana (Chip Tolentino), Jay Reiss (Douglas Panch) and Sarah Saltzberg (Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre).

Spelling Bee was originally scheduled for an eight-week run at the Brentwood Theatre. The producers, however, were only able to secure the original cast for a month-long run, so it necessitated a change in venue: the larger, nearby Wadsworth Theatre in order to accommodate Broadway/L.A. subscribers and other ticket demands.

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 is 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 version with a book by librettist Rachel Sheinkin.

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.

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.

Performance schedule at the Wadsworth will be Tuesday-Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 and 8 PM and Sunday at 1 and 6:30 PM.

Tickets for the Los Angeles run will go on sale to the general public April 15 at 10 AM. Tickets, priced $28-$83, will be available by calling (213) 365-3500 or (714) 740-7878 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com.

The Wadsworth Theatre is located on Wilshire Boulevard, just west of the 405 Freeway on the grounds of the Veterans Administration.

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Spelling Bee enters its third year on Broadway at Circle in the Square April 15. For more information visit www.spellingbeethemusical.com.