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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    How fun can ‘Spelling Bee’?

    Valentina Martinelli
    Valentina Martinelli / Arizona Daily Wildcat Marcy, played by Claire Graham, spells out a word at a rehearsal of The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee, on Tuesday Nov 2. Performances begin November 10.

    How can you make a spelling bee into a musical? For the next several weeks, UA musical theater students are showing audiences that one small competition can turn into an explosion of comical satire, eccentric characters, and energetic song and dance numbers.

    From now until Dec. 5, the UA School of Theatre, Film and Television is putting on a performance of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “”The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”” This Arizona Repertory Theatre production takes place at UA’s own Tornabene Theatre, and the actors are UA undergraduate students pursuing musical theater and acting.

    The show follows six quirky elementary schoolers as they embark on comical journeys of self discovery while vying to win a spelling bee. Their stories are entertaining as well as charming because “”The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”” plays off of the eccentric people who we all encountered in our early school days. From the overbearing know-it-all girl who can speak six languages to the zany and awkward kid who wears a cape to class, the actors in this show do an exemplary job at creating a social satire.

    In addition, the show is filled with witty and intellectual humor. As the actors participate in the spelling bee, the concepts of words, their definitions, and “”Can you use that in a sentence?”” create clever jokes out of language and culture.

    Similarly, “”The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”” utilizes improvisation and audience participation to really make the audience laugh out loud. During each performance, a few audience members volunteer to take part in the play. Actors improvise jokes about these people, as well as challenge the volunteers to spell words alongside the other characters. Some of the spelling bee words are easy, whereas others are completely random and bizarre. And any word is reason enough to burst into song.

    The Tornabene Theatre is a small, intimate environment where the audience sits nearly all the way around the stage, so all the seats in the house are good ones. Tickets are $21 for UA students. For more information, go to

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