Mo Rocca and Jennifer Simard Run Broadway's Spelling Bee with New Cast Beginning April 17

News   Mo Rocca and Jennifer Simard Run Broadway's Spelling Bee with New Cast Beginning April 17
Comedian Mo Rocca and actress Jennifer Simard take over the reins of Broadway's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee as a new cast enters the musical April 17.

Mo Rocca joins Spelling Bee.
Mo Rocca joins Spelling Bee. Photo by Crown Publishing

Cast members from the San Francisco and Boston runs of Spelling Bee join their former castmate Jared Gertner (Anatomy 1968, My Favorite Year), who has played William Barfee in the Broadway run of the hit musical at Circle in the Square Theatre since Jan. 30.

Rocca — a special correspondent to "The Tonight Show" (and formerly of "The Daily Show") — takes 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 — reprises her turn from the national tour as Bee coordinator Rona Lisa Perretti.

Also joining the cast are 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 Asia 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.

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

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