On Stage

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Music & Lyrics by William Finn
Book by Rachel Sheinkin
Conceived by Rebecca Feldman

April 18 & 19 at 8pm
April 23-26 at 8pm
April 27 at 2pm
Culbreth Theatre

Recite. Spell. Repeat. Wait. And hope against hope not to hear the dreaded “ding.” This is the formula for high-stakes spell offs at schools and in communities across America, and it’s the formula for one of the Broadway’s best-loved musicals – and the final show of the 2018-2019 Drama Department season!

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has charmed audiences across America with its effortless wit and humor. Featuring a fast-paced, wildly funny, and touching book by Rachel Sheinkin and a truly fresh and vibrant score by William Finn, the show offers audiences an unforgettable experience, and just maybe, a moment in the spotlight to show off their own spelling skills! Winner of the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, the show takes us inside the minds of six mid-pubescents as they face off in the spelling bee championship of a lifetime. While they candidly disclose hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping to never hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing bell that signals a mistake. Six start out. One remains standing. And five leave with nothing but a juice box as a consolation prize. The show is a riotous ride complete with audience participation, and a dynamic cast that will have you laughing and rooting for them all at the same time.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, directed by David Dalton, will be presented April 18 & 19 at 8pm, April 23-26 at 8pm and April 27 at 2pm at Culbreth Theatre.

Tickets for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, UVA faculty and staff and alumni association members, and $10 for students. Tickets are available online at www.artsboxoffice.virginia.edu, by calling 434-924-3376, or in-person from noon until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday at the UVA Arts Box Office, located in the lobby of the Drama building.

Director David Dalton and his design team are employing a “stage-within-a-stage” approach to creatively capture the inner lives of the bee participants captured in the fantasy sequences that are so important to the show. “The stage itself is a gymnasium,” he said, “and we have created a stage within that gymnasium that, when it opens, summons forth a sort of magical or magically realistic fantasy or memory sequence that is often accompanied by songs. So, when the spellers think back to things that have happened in their pasts, or when they have fantasies about what they might do in the future, these take place in that inner stage.”  READ MORE

The contestants for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee await their turn at the microphone (l-r Kyle Clark, Veronica Seguin, Marcha Kiantrungrit, Apollo Yong, Aaron Doss, and Julia Landini).  Photo by Martyn Kyle of Pernmoot Photography.