Curtain Call: The Twenty-fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
The always splendid McLeod Summer Playhouse presents The Twenty-fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on June 18, 24, and 26 at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee performance Sunday, June 20. The one-act musical has been a big hit since premiering on Broadway in 2005.
"This production is about a group of six kids competing in a Putnam spelling bee, and it kind of brings out the characteristics in the six kids throughout," Lee Bussie told Nightlife. Bussie is a musical-theater graduate of Western Illinois University who portrays Mitch Mahoney in Putnam. "It shows the process of a regular spelling bee-- normally, in real life, people get eliminated… . Basically, it is about these six kids competing in a spelling bee, and as they get eliminated along the way, and you get to learn a little about each one of them as you continue along the journey of the show."
This musical has a lot of heart, especially as exhibited by Bussie's character.
"Mitch Mahoney is funny because he plays the part of the comfort counselor," Bussie said. "His job is to give every eliminated speller a hug and a juice box. His character is funny because he is doing this as community service-- he's kind of forced into it. He was in jail, and his community service and parole assignment is that he does this for the spelling bee."
The character of Mahoney also looks intimidating, making his appearance as the comfort counselor even more humorous.
"He is a big, built guy-- he's kind of like a bouncer character," Bussie said. "In the beginning, you can tell that he doesn't really want to be there, but throughout the show he gets more and more attached to these kids, so he is kind of like the oddball guy. Towards the end, he starts to have a heart for these kids. He kind of finds his place in the bee doing his community service and parole."
In addition to the six kids in the spelling bee, the audience may also join the competition.
"There's audience participation-- it's a lot of fun," Bussie said. "Every night, we go into the audience and choose spellers from the audience to actually be a part of the show. That is a huge thing-- people can get involved and it is really great."
For those who enjoy musicals and who like a good laugh, The Twenty-fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee offers good music, laughs, audience participation, and a great script.
"The production is great," Bussie said. "It's really, really funny, and it is one of the most well-written scripts I've worked with in a long time. I think that everyone will have a really good time. It is very much an audience-participation show."
For tickets or more information, stop by the theater box office on the south side of the Communications Building, call (618) 453-3001, or visit <http://playhouse.siu.edu>.
who: McLeod Summer Playhouse
what: The Twenty-fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (live musical theater)
where: Communications Building McLeod Theatre
when: June 18, 20, 24, and 26