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The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY MUSICAL
by Rachel Scheinkin (book) & William Finn (songs)

COMPANY : Onstage Atlanta, Inc. [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Onstage Atlanta on Ponce [WEBSITE]
ID# 4603

SHOWING : July 11, 2014 - August 16, 2014

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Music and Lyrics by William Finn
Book by Rachel Scheinkin
Conceived by Rebecca Feldman
Additonal Material by Jay Reiss

ALL SUNDAY SHOWS ARE "FAMILY FRIENDLY" (safe for kids)

All Friday and Saturday night shows are PG-13 due to mature situations and language


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Amy Morrow
Music Director Paul A. Tate
Drums L. Gerard Reid
Olive Ostrovsky Gabriella Anderson
Marcy Park Misty Barber
Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre Emily Diamond
Leaf Coneybear Nolan Martin
William Barfee Darin McKenna
Chip Tolentino Evan McLean
Vice Principal Panch Charlie Miller
Rona Lisa Peretti Jennifer Morse
Mitch Mahoney Donal P. Noonan
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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The Vigintillionth Spelling Bee Production
by playgoer
Saturday, July 19, 2014
3.5
It seems "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" has been done all over town. The script and songs are perky, and the characters are idiosyncratic and memorable. It’s hard to do too terribly wrong unless the actors can’t navigate the sometimes difficult music. At Onstage Atlanta, the show is being done justice, but it doesn’t rise above the pack in terms of its quality of production.

The simple set, designed by Elisabeth Cooper, gives the feel of a gymnasium, with its wood-painted floor and bleachers. Lighting, by the same designer, tends to use pools of light that don’t highlight director Amy Morrow’s blocking particularly well. Joan Cooper’s costumes are adequate (albeit with clasp problems on Leaf Coneybear’s cape), but aren’t memorable, with Amy Morrow’s sound and props design coming across slightly better. (The enormous trophy presented to the winner is unrealistic, but well realized.) It’s an okay-looking production.

Musically, the show could be better. The Bee Band accompaniment uses woodwinds and cello that aren’t as well balanced and well-tuned as the piano. The male voices tend to be weaker than the female voices, but the only vocal problems tend to be cases of low volume where the actor’s vocal range doesn’t match the required range of a song. In general, it’s a good-sounding show. Jennifer Morse’s voice is probably the best, but everyone shines at some point.

Ms. Morse also does a fine acting job as Rona Lisa Perretti, with her makeup highlighting the glow of her face. When she’s in the spotlight, she shines. When she isn’t in the spotlight, she reacts with reactions consistent with her character. Charlie Miller works well with her as Vice Principal Panch, but his fine singing voice only gets a workout in the finale.

The audience participants are not being chosen at random at Onstage Atlanta; there are sign-in forms for those interested in spelling onstage. Those chosen are ably coached by the regular cast during the choreography, and the group I saw seemed to be remarkably self-possessed onstage. I recognized one as an actor about town.

By and large, the actors playing the spelling bee contestants are able performers, but don’t seem to have captured their characters fully. Only Emily Diamond, as Logainne, combines the natural comic timing, the splendid voice, the truthful acting, and the whole-hearted commitment to the role to make her character fully ring true. Misty Barber, as a non-Asian Marcy Park, has a wonderful stage presence too. The director seems to have encouraged the cast to find their inner comedians, but I’m not sure there are natural comedians in all the actors.

The uncredited choreography is nicely done and well-suited to the capabilities of the cast. Nolan Martin, as Leaf Coneybear, has a nice solo, and Darin McKenna and Gabriella Anderson, as William Barfée and Olive Ostrovsky, have a well-executed pas de deux. Donal P. Noonan’s oversized stature is well-used in dance moments too.

Audiences will love Onstage Atlanta’s "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." It’s a Tony Award-winning musical (as the program points out), and the material is strong enough to carry the show. The poignancy is in a bit of a short supply in this production, but the activity quotient is high and an atmosphere of good humor permeates the show from beginning to end. It’s fun, but not better than a number of other productions of the same show done around town over the past several years.
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