The Davis & Elkins College Theatre and Film Program aims to bring some warmth and laughter to this chilly winter as it presents the Tony Award winning musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Performances are set for 8 p.m. Feb. 18 and 19 and 2 p.m. Feb. 20 in Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium.
The event is open to the public and, while admission is free, donations will be accepted. Masks and social distancing are required in the theatre.
The story focuses on an eclectic group of six mid-pubescents who vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves. At least the losers get a juice box.
“It has been a whirlwind six weeks, but we are all very excited to share this funny heartfelt musical with the Elkins community,” said Director and Assistant Professor of Theatre Dr. Aubrey Helene Neumann. “I am incredibly proud of our talented cast and crew, who have really come together to pull off this spelling bee. Everyone has made it a ‘very, very nice’ beginning of my time here at Davis & Elkins College.”
Excitement runs high among the cast as well, especially with freshmen Heather Humphrey of French Creek and MacKenzie Jones of Washington, D.C.
“I couldn’t ask for a better experience, this being my first musical ever,” said Humphrey, who plays spelling bee host Rona Lisa Peretti. “The energy and environment are great. It’s a funny show and the cast isn’t afraid to make it funny. Even off stage, we’re cracking jokes and making each other laugh.”
Jones plays Logainne “Shwartzy” SchwartzandGrubenierre.
“She’s the youngest competitor in the show; very outgoing, energetic and quirky,” Jones said. “For me, it’s been fun because we have a little of the same personalities. To me, I feel as though I am just being myself and it feels great.”
The show also features choreography by freshman Becca Thacker of Kearney, Nebraska, who credits the cast with fueling her enthusiasm.
“Dance is a hidden language we all possess,” Thacker explained. “I would not have a role in this production unless I had amazing actors and actresses to work with. Their hard work pushes me to be a better choreographer.”
Other cast members include senior Tobias Sears of Crab Orchard as Charlito “Chip” Tolentino; sophomore Kyia McGill of Buckhannon as Olive Ostrovsky; freshman Doug Gabbert III of Follansbee as Vice Principal Douglas Panch; freshman Jensen Kraft of Nutley, New Jersey, as Marcy Park; freshman Luke Stables of Bridgewater, Virginia, as William Morris Barfée; freshman Nina Arbogast of Beverly as Leaf’s Mom; and freshman Giovanni Romero of Ranson as Dan Schwartz. The cast also includes guest artists from Elkins High School and The Old Brick Playhouse – Emilia Diaz (playing Leaf Coneybear) and Marissa Mallow (playing Mitch Mahoney).
For tickets, call the D&E Box Office at 304-637-1255 or visit www.showtix4u.com/events/dewv.
The “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performances materials are also supplied by MTI.