Courtesy of Perpetual Motion PR
Can you spell H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S and J-O-Y-F-U-L? Arden Theatre Company is diving into spring with the TONY Award winning hit musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. With music and lyrics by William Finn and a book by Rachel Sheinkin, this hilarious and heartfelt musical, conceived by Rebecca Feldman, takes audiences into the heart of a Spelling Bee and the important moments of growing up that shape the people we become. Arden regular Amina Robinson returns to direct. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee runs May 25-June 25. Opening Night is Wednesday, May 31 at 7 p.m.
“Spelling Bee is a hilariously quirky show about the delicate balance between our ambitions and our insecurities,” said Robinson. “It allows us to celebrate our uniqueness, delight in the youthful angst and growing pains of belonging, and unites us in understanding that we are all out here just trying to do the best we can. It excites me to give audiences a moment of breath and laughter, at the versions of ourselves that we may find in the “kids” at the Bee!”
This winsome award-winning musical follows a group of six spelling champions who learn that winning (and losing) isn’t everything as they compete for a treasured spelling bee championship and make some hilarious and heartfelt self-discoveries along the way. There will be some opportunities for audience participation at the Bee. Audiences will also delight in the potential of surprise spellers at each performance.
The cast includes Arden favorites and actors appearing at the theater for the first time. Jessica Money, who recently played Fern in the recent Arden Children’s Theatre production of Charlotte’s Web, plays Olive Ostrovsky. Garrick Vaughan, who played several roles in last season’s Into the Woods, returns to play Leaf Coneybear. Steve Pacek returns to the Arden’s stage to play William Barfee, a role he previously played at Theatre Horizon for which he was nominated for a Barrymore Award. Dave Johnson, who last appeared at the Arden in The Cat in the Hat, returns to play Vice Principal Douglas Panch.
Helen St. Cyr, a 2022 University of the Arts graduate, makes her Arden debut as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere. Local performer and teaching artist Ronnie Keller makes his Arden debut as Chip Tolentino. Hannah Catanoso, an actor and teaching artist from the area who has performed in South Jersey, makes her Arden debut as Marcy Park. Patricia Noonan, a local performer who has extensive New York credits makes her Arden Debut as Rona Lisa Perretti. Henry Gainza, who recently was in the company of Mr. Saturday Night on Broadway, makes his Arden debut as Mitch Mahoney.
“It is my hope to really tap into the truth of who the characters are,” said Robinson. “They each represent pivotal moments and ideas in our journey as humans. I feel that by tapping that simple truth, the humor and outright hilarious words on the page and score will shine and leave audiences feeling refreshed and ready to just… be themselves.”
Robinson directs. Ryan Touhey is the Music Director. The Choreographer is Robin Levine. Colin McIlvaine is the Set Designer. Jorge Arroyo is the Lighting Designer. Ariel Wang is the Costume Designer. Elizabeth Atkinson is the Sound Designer. Marissa Barnathan is the Assistant Director. Gina Giachero is the Assistant Music Director. Alec E. Ferrell is the Stage Manager. Alexander Piere and Kaylee McNeill are the Assistant Stage Managers.
All performances will be on the F. Otto Haas Stage at the Arden. Tickets start at $26 and are available online at www.ardentheatre.org, by phone at 215.922.1122, or in person at the box office at Arden Theatre Company at 40 N. 2nd Street.