Sold-Out Spelling Bee Musical Offers Benefit Performance Off-Broadway, March 15

News   Sold-Out Spelling Bee Musical Offers Benefit Performance Off-Broadway, March 15
The new Off-Broadway musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which has completely sold out its current extended run through March 20, will offer a special benefit performance.

The event to benefit Second Stage Theatre's new play development will take place March 15 at 7 PM. Tickets to the special performance ($100-200) can be purchased by phone at (212) 246-4422. Audience members will receive a cast-signed poster or t shirts in addition to a post-show reception.

Tony Award-winning Falsettos collaborators — composer William Finn and director James Lapine — reteam on the work with newcomer librettist Rachel Sheinkin (Striking 12) on a concept by Rebecca Feldman. The new musical began performances Jan. 11 and opened Feb. 7 to positive critical and audience response.

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.

Producer David Stone told the New York Times that a leap to the Broadway boards is dependent on finding an available theatre. He noted that getting the show into a Broadway house before the Tony Awards eligibility cutoff is not a major factor. The move would cost an estimated $3.5 million and the hope is to keep the original Off Broadway cast. 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.

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.

Featuring music and lyrics by Finn with a book by Sheinkin (Striking 12) from a concept by 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), Dan Moses Schreier (sound) and Marty Kopulsky (hair and wig). The production stage manager is Andrea Testani.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee performs at Second Stage, 307 West 43rd Street (just off 8th Ave.). For more information, visit

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