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Theatre Art Students Bring Hilarious Broadway Hit to CHC
Crafton Hills College Theatre Program students will present the Broadway hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee March 6th, 7th, and 8th on the college campus. This musical comedy, with music and lyrics written by the Tony Award winning William Finn and directed by the new Professor of Theatre Arts at Crafton, Paul Jacques, is guaranteed to have you in stitches. The show has been widely performed after its initial barnstorming success on Broadway—and Jacques who is also a resident director for the California Theatre—has added his own twist to certain numbers promising new fun “not seen in other productions before.”
Chosen for its engaging musical numbers and small scale cast, Putnam takes place entirely within the setting of a school gymnasium, where this innovative and hilarious musical follows the trials and tribulations of a group of six all-American pre-pubescent oddballs as they compete for first place in a middle-school spelling bee. “Everyone has that shared experience” of the spelling bee, director Jacques observed, confiding that “this is my first year here so we wanted to have something that was fun.” But the show also has a serious side to it. The show teaches “that individualism is important” and is ultimately about finding your own path in life, Jacques shared. Each character has “a self-discovery moment in the show,” he added, suggesting that this is an appropriate theme for the student actors who are themselves on a journey of self-discovery.
“It’s not the easiest musical to do,” Joslyn Perez—who plays the overachieving Marcy Parks—admitted. And “the way the music is written” is particularly challenging, she added. But if that is the case, then it is clear that this educational journey, like the journey of the spellers themselves, has been one of growth. “It’s all about the educational journey” for the students, director Jacques asserted, clearly proud of the achievement they have accomplished in preparing this sophisticated contemporary musical. “We have a couple of students who are completely new to the department,” but Jacques was impressed with the calibre of their auditions and is excited about opening night. “I think you’re going to come and laugh and have a good time,” said Jacques, adding that the audience is going “to learn something, but that the learning is going to be couched in a lot of humor.”
There is one unusual aspect to the show. As Koby Darby, who plays the character Leaf Coneybear, shared, there “is an improv element to the show.” And apparently, “at the beginning of the show four audience members are pulled up and they’re part of the spelling bee.” But don’t worry, if you’re one of those “four lucky people,” Jacques joked, “you get given the softballs.” I guess there’s only one way to find out if that’s true.
Tickets for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are on sale now at www.craftonhills.edu/tickets. General admission tickets are $10. Discounted tickets are available for seniors and students for $5. There will be three performances of this show; two in the evening and one in the afternoon. You can catch the 8 p.m. evening performances on the 6th and 7th of March or, if you prefer to see it while the sun’s still up, head over to campus at 2:00 p.m. on the 8th.