M-U-S-I-C-A-L

M-U-S-I-C-A-L

A different type of musical headed to the school’s Repertory theatre … a modern musical with heavy innuendo, laced cultural references and a song about an unfortunately timed boner.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”, the Rep theatre’s most recent debut, is more than just a lengthy title and a fictional school activity.

The musical comedy about six intellectuals finding themselves is told through hilarious definitions and bizarre songs. The audience finds these six juveniles fighting to win their school spelling bee – the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Intelligent, quirky and socially out-casted, these six contestants compete to spell the most words correctly. They’re as interesting as their names are – ambitious geeks from a boy scout named Chip to a girl named Marcy who can speak six languages and say “hello” in seven more. They all want to be winners.

A leading character in the musical’s dynamics, Rona Lisa Peretti (Libby Flood, junior) sets the stage for much of the comedy in this mock competeition.

“She [Rona] thinks she’s the star of the show,” Flood said.

Rona is the host of the spelling bee, and winner of the 9th Annual Putnm County Spelling Bee.

“She’s a real estate agent, but she thinks she’s super amazing,” Flood said.

Rona provides commentary about the contestants throughout the show, often about the various flaws and personal information of the contestants.

Something that surprised the audience was that some crowd members were chosen to be a part of the play.

“[We] include audience interactions for the spelling bee. It’s so much fun,” Flood said.

“We pick people out of the audience that night to be in the cast,” Andy Larson, sophomore and actor of Vice Principal Panch said.

One cast member actually sits in the crowd the majority of the performance, heading to the stage at appropriate times. Curtis Mulvenon, orchestra teacher, and Greg Schieszer, photo teacher, were brought onstage to actually perform in the show as contestants.

“It’s a show that can always be different with the audience volunteers. You can keep it fresh – keep it fun,” Michael Reiff, drama teacher, said.

The stage was constantly filled with comedic scenes, often at the same time. At one point, Marcy prayed for a harder word and Jesus appeared. At the same time Mitch Mahoney, a juvenile delinquent just off parole, was providing some background humor.

Still applicable after the show’s original creation, the script has been updated with new information.

“It’s a newer show. It’s less than ten years old, so it’s fresher. When people come to see it, they see it first time,” Reiff said.

New-age phrases and one-liners like “Come at me, bro” and “Cool story, bro” were used during the musical.

“It offers a lot of leeway for current events. One character changed the secretary of state to Neil Patrick Harris,” Flood said.

When recreating the production for a high school theater, the Rep group found it was easy to form.

“There was some flexibility with how to change it,” Reiff said.

“It’s been made really up-to-date with current events. It’s not like any other musicals that are set in the 20s with cowboys. You can’t relate to cowboys,” Larson said.

Some editing was made before the show could actually run in a high school production.

“We had to censor a lot of the stuff,” Larson said.

“We’ve had to clean it up so much. There’s a lot of stuff with so much innuendo,” Flood said. “It’s so inappropriate. We’ve changed “My Unfortunate Erection” to “My Unfortunate Distraction”, but it’s so obvious what the song really is.”

Satirical of a culture obsessed with winning, “Putnam” is a fast-paced performance full of relevant jokes, catchy songs and wise hunks of good advice. It’s surely a delight for the audience.

“It’s not boring,” Larson said.