Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 4:14 am | Fair 66º


PCPA Theaterfest Presents ‘25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’

Season also includes Distracted, The Music Man and The Spitfire Grill

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, the Tony-winning musical comedy, will be playing in Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts’ Marian Theatre June 19 through July 11, then in the outdoor Festival Theater in Solvang July 17 through Aug. 2.

Where else could six young people struggling with puberty stand out and fit in at the same time? The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, of course.

This momentous spelling championship pits the quirkiest collection of heroes against one another in the unlikeliest of hit musical, where the contestants learn that winning isn’t everything and that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser.

TIME magazine called it, “The joy of nerdiness.”

“Funniest thing in seven consonants,” raved The Washington Post.

“It’s spelled W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L,” wrote The Wall Street Journal.

And, you might want to brush up on your spelling, because at each performance of Spelling Bee, four volunteers from the audience are allowed to participate on stage. Volunteers will be selected prior to the start of the show. The selection process takes place in the lobby and involves a short questionnaire and brief interview. The guest spellers will ensure a unique evening of theater, night after night. The production runs under two hours without intermission.

The show was nominated for six Tony Awards in 2005 and took Best Book of a Musical by Rachel Sheinkin and Best Featured Actor, Dan Fogler. Drama Desk Awards recognized Outstanding Book of a Musical, Outstanding Director of a Musical, James Lapine, and Outstanding Ensemble Performance. Spelling Bee ran for 1,136 performances at Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre, but it began as a non-musical improvisational play, C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E created by Rebecca Feldman.

The oddly assorted contestants include a newcomer to spelling bees, Olive Ostrovsky, and William Barfee, a finalist from last year who because of a food allergy was eliminated. His “magic foot” method of spelling makes him a standout. Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre is the youngest of the contestants who speaks with a lisp and has two overbearing fathers. Marcy Park is multi-lingual, plays hockey and rugby (a champion player), plays multiple instruments and attends a Catholic school called Our Lady of Intermittent Sorrows. Leaf Coneybear spells while in a trance and made it into the competition because the first runner up had to go to a Bat Mitzvah. And then there is Chip Tolentino, who is returning to defend his title. They all keep the show offbeat, funny, and heartwarming.

Also playing this summer: Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man, The Spitfire Grill, and Distracted.

Click here for ticket information, or call 805.922.8313. Information about Group Sales for 12 or more patrons may be obtained by contacting .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or by calling 800.922.2123.

Now in its 45th season, PCPA Theaterfest has infused the national theater scene with thousands of trained actors and theatrical technicians over the years in its conservatory.

— Craig Shafer is communications director of PCPA Theaterfest.

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