For Lyric Arts’ newest production a modestly designed stage of bleachers, a table, a microphone and a piano greet the audience. You would think you stumbled into the rehearsal of a show and not an actual performance. But make no mistake, this unassuming stage is the set for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a small scale musical bursting with laughs, honesty and a little bit of improv too.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a musical most can probably relate to. Although it may have been sports, a science fair or a debate meet which was your “bee” back in school, there are moments in the show which will resonate for many. The spelling bee participants are a mix of characters ranging from the athlete Chip Tolentino (Matthew Berdahl) to the eccentric Leaf Coneybear (Kyle Szarzinski). From the overachiever Marcy Park (Alison Rigazio) to the girl with the overbearing parents’ Loganne Schwartzandgrubenierre (Callie Schroer) to the flashy William Barfée (Tim Davis) to the bookworm Olive Ostrovsky (Anna Larranaga). You can find a piece of yourself in all of these kids. And if you’re one of four lucky audience members you get to participate in the action first hand.
The collaboration of director Zach Curtis, scenic designer Karen Tait and lighting designer Adam Raine has created the perfect show design. You honestly forget you are watching a musical and believe you are truly witnessing a spelling bee competition.
This is the 16th production I have seen at Lyric Arts and after every show I am amazed at the production quality. With each show they produce the quality of the production continues to not just increase but amaze me at what they are able to accomplish. For many the drive to Anoka may be cumbersome, but believe me it is well worth it. Lyric Arts productions don’t disappoint.
For more information on The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee or to purchase tickets to the show, visit Lyric Arts’ website.