NMU Theater: Spelling is easy, being 12 years old is hard

Behind the Curtain of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee


Molly Birch/NW

IN ACTION — The Majority of the cast, including Moreau and Skelly, stands onstage in a scene from the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The play’s opening night was on Friday, October 14, and will continue showing until Saturday, October 22.

Harry Stine

“Behind the stage is a very, very challenging process,” freshman Quinn Skelly said about the musical theater process. Skelly is a musical theater major who will be performing in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, NMU’s most recent theater production.

The play will have seven total performances at the Forest Roberts Theatre through October 22, according to the NMU Theatre and Dance website

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a competitive Spelling Bee among a group of middle schoolers who all come to the bee to win,” Director Kelly Crawford Truckey said. “But all have their quirky personalities and their own hurdles, and constraints that are sort of keeping them back from their own individuation.”

According to Truckey, the average day of play practice starts with prepping, script analysis, blocking for the show – the act of finding out where to position actors, going over character information, and ends with three hours of rehearsals from 7 to 10 in the evening.

For the actors, sophomore Maya Moreau said rehearsals are after a day of going to various classes – from Theater History to the Art Form of Dance – while also making sure you know all your lines by heart.

According to Skelly, the weeks leading up to opening day have much more busy hours, and one Saturday even had them “working from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.”

Skelly and Moreau, who both act as middle schoolers in the play, described the switch from being college students in their daily lives to youths, as a more effortful process than most would think. 

“To act is to not act,” Moreau said. “You shouldn’t be acting; you should do this character work where you dive into what it’s like to be a 12-year-old.”

She works on putting herself back in the mindset 12-year-old children tend to have.

Skelly added that there was “a lot of chaos as well,” and noted the difficulties that came with not only acting but erupting into song and dance at any given moment. 

“Bringing it to life every night is about becoming the 12-year-old, or the 10-year-old, or the eight-year-old every night,” Moreau said. “And that’s so fun. That is so fun getting to go back to being a kid and being able to play on stage.”

The two estimated that they have been in about nine plays together, with roles ranging from supporting characters to leading roles. 

Skelly cited Truckey and Sarah Parks, the play’s music director, as big sources of support throughout the process of rehearsals.

“We are just so thankful to have these people that we can look up to who helped us through this process as well,” Skelly said. “It is just such a grateful opportunity to have these people.”