‘Spelling Bee’ spells f-u-n for students

Kristen Halsey

When trying to survive puberty and win a spelling bee competition, the characters of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” will say the best thing to do is sing.

The Forest Roberts Theatre will be presenting “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” April 17 to 21. The show is directed by faculty member Paul Truckey.

The musical is about a group of six children who arrive for the finals of the spelling bee. Each are winners from local elementary and middle schools. These six contestants are in the throes of puberty, being guided by adults who managed to barely escape childhood and puberty themselves.

Pierce Huxtable, a junior theater major, plays the role of Vice Principal Douglas Panch, a judge for the spelling bee who is infatuated with the host Rona Lisa Peretti.

“You will be able to identify with one of these characters,” Huxtable said. “Everyone will fit into one of these character archetypes.”

Meghan Marquardt, a sophomore theater major, plays the role of Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre, a contestant that strives for perfection despite some of her insecurities.

“Other than the two dads part, Logainne is pretty much me,” Marquardt said. “She feels the pressure to be perfect all the time. It’s been kind of cool to work with a lisp. I don’t get to change my voice very often so it’s a new challenge.”

What most cast members have said was how great the rehearsal process has been.

“This is the smoothest rehearsal process I have ever been a part of,” said senior theater major Aaron Sarka. “We have the dream team in charge and all of the actors are so willing to work and nobody in the show refuses to do something.”

Sarka plays the role of Leaf Coneybear, a child who comes from a large family, makes his own clothes and wears a cape.

When it comes to the characters, some actors have been able to draw upon some of their past experiences.
“Leaf Coneybear is a beautiful combination of every single role I have played,” Sarka said. “I have been able to pull something from every role I’ve played for this one. It’s really just fun, there is nothing about this role that is work. It is physically exhausting but it never feels like work.”

Erin Powley, a freshmen theater major, portrays Olive Ostrovsky, an introverted young girl whose parents neglect her and who copes by reading the dictionary.

“It’s a lot of fun and it’s awesome that we have such a focused cast,” Powley said. “I have never worked with a group that is as dedicated and focused as this cast is; it’s been a great experience.”

Unlike some other musicals, the audience is one of the key factors for this show.

Audience members will get the opportunity to be a part of the show. Members of the audience can volunteer to become spellers themselves and end up being a part of the musical.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” will be showing at 7:30 p.m., April 17 to 21 at the Forest Roberts Theatre. There is an additional show at 1 p.m. on Saturday as a matinee. Doors open a half hour before the show starts. Tickets are $10 for NMU students and $15 for general public.

For more information, visit the Forest Roberts Theatre box office or call it at (906) 227-2082.