Spelling their way into our hearts

Raunchy, hilarious, and full of unique characters, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee definitely pushed the limits of what can be shown in high school theatre, making even the guest speller Jon Jon, from Q102, ask what was on all of our minds “Is this high school?”. Still, the audience loved every minute of it. It gave everyone a chance to relive their middle school days, with all of the awkwardness included.


The opening night of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was a huge success for the Highlands Theatre Department. The show was centered around six middle schoolers and the shenanigans that happen at their school’s fictional spelling bee. A seemingly boring plot was made infinitely more entertaining by the amazing actors/actresses and the hilarious guest spellers.


Each night of the show, there will be three audience members that are chosen through a raffle to be a guest speller in the bee. Also, a special guest will make an appearance each night. For opening night, the special guest was none other than Q102’s Jon Jon Curl. At first, these guest spellers seemed to be slightly bewildered by the extravagance of the show. However, they quickly caught on and sparked some interesting dialogue between the characters, and added humor to the show that made it extra unique.


On Friday night, our very own Principal Matthew Bertasso will test his spelling capabilities, along with superintendent Karen Cheser. On Saturday, WVXU’s Maryanne Zeleznik will get a chance to take the stage, and finally, Fox 19’s Tricia Macke will finish out the show on Sunday afternoon.


Overall, the most impressive part of the show was that approximately 10% of the whole show was improv. Quick jokes and witty remarks made by Hank Slaby who played William Barfee and Braxton Broering who played Vice Principal Douglas Panch had the audience laughing out loud. All of the interactions between the actors and the guest spellers was completely improvised. However, the actors remained in character the whole time and were even able to make the special guests feel as if they were part of the show.


However, the musical wasn’t all comedy. There was amazing acrobatics by Lizzy Roeding who played Marcy Park and a solo by Zoe Zoller, who played Olive Ostrovsky, that had the whole auditorium holding their breath. As always, the immense singing and acting talent of the cast left the audience speechless.


Not only was the musical comedy gold, but it also had a depth to it that isn’t present in many musicals. Every character, whether they were the ensemble or the lead role, gave it their all from the minute the curtains opened to the minute they closed. Every actor/actress brought a laugh to the audience whether it was the charismatic janitors or the sassy cheerleaders. No joke was left unsaid and no person, not even the audience, was safe from quick-witted, slightly insulting, jokes.


This show has something for everyone – comedy that plays to the children, hilarious jokes that will have the parents laughing their heads off, amazing singing, and engaging audience participation. You still have three more chances to see the show and find out which lucky participant will be crowned spelling bee champion. Come to the PAC at 7:30 tonight and Saturday or at 2:00 on Sunday. Go see it, you won’t regret it!