THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEEBook by Rachel Sheinkin, Music & Lyrics by William Finn
Conceived by Rebecca Feldman
Directed by – Micah Green
Music Director – Mark Mullino
Choreographer – Leslie Jones
Technical Director – Bryan Stevenson
Stage Manager – Maria Leon Hickox*
Asst. Stage Manager – Michael Green
Set Design – Bryan Stevenson
Lighting Design – Bryan Stevenson
Sound Design – Ryan Simón
Costume Design – Janice Pennington
Properties Design – Robin Dotson
Scenic Artist – Angie Glover
Asst. Scenic Artist – Mary Thomas
Light Board Operator – Taylor Love
Sound Board Op - Ryan Simón
Spotlight 1 – Michael Green
Covid Compliance Officer – Joshua Nerio
Graphic Designer – SoloShoe Communications, L.L.C.
Photographer – Eric Younkin
Keyboard – Mark Mullion
Reeds – Mark Alewine
Drums – Jay Majernik
Cello – Brian Seo
Mitch Mahoney – Sinclair Freeman
Olive Ostrovsky – Donovan Marie Lawson
Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere (Schwarzy) – Jude Laine Lewis
Leaf Coneybear – Darin Martin
Vice Principal Douglas Panch – Steven D. Morris
Macy Park – Jayden Russell
William Barfee – Maximilian Swenson
Rona Lisa Peritti – Brett Warner*
Chip Tolentino – Garrett Caelan Weir
* Ms. Warner and Ms. Leon Hickox appear courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association by special arrangement. Actors Equity Association is the union of professional actors and stage managers.
Reviewed Performance: 6/5/2022
Reviewed by Carla Wicks, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
When the show began I was immediately entertained by the choice of four audience members to come up on stage and be a part of the production. Although for a brief time, they provided additional comedic moments. I loved the ad-lib ability of Steven D. Morris and Brett Warner when it came to unscripted dialogue for the random audience participants on stage.
The opening scene with Rona Lisa Peritti played by Brett Warner was extremely helpful to set the tone for the show and give a snapshot of the basis of the whole production. Her believability to recount her own winning moment was touching. Her interaction with each contestant was well delivered.
As the different student characters arrived on stage, from costume to nuanced behavior and speech, each one held their own. None of them played stronger than their fellow cast mates and all were strong in their delivery. Each one had a distinct personality and mannerisms including speech that provided a basis for the audience to be in their world while watching them perform.
Olive Ostrovsky played by Donovan Marie Lawson while tender and thoughtful was able to show us her competitive nature as a fellow spelling bee participant. She was loveable and believable.
William Barfee played by Maximilian Swenson carried many emotions and agility in his characterization. Whether standing and displaying his name pronunciation or showing feelings for fellow contestant Olive his emotions were on point for the production. His comedic timing was enjoyable.
Schwarzy played by Jude Laine Lewis was so cute and her energy level very entertaining. She juggled many different emotions and made sure the audience was drawn into her life outside the spelling bee. She flowed in character.
Marcy Park played by Jayden Russell did a good job of blending her character and her backstory. I especially loved her diction throughout and her vocal ability.
Chip Tolentino played by Garrett Caelan Weir had a more challenging role in my opinion with his character and his vocal solo number at the top of Act 2. Having read his bio in the playbill and as a fellow thespian it is difficult to deliver dialogue or solos which deal with subject matter that can be delicate for a viewing audience that is diverse. While not everyone will appreciate the solo or the portion of the script dealing with anatomy, I am impressed with how Garrett was able to deliver his performance.
Mitch Mahoney played by Sinclair Freeman was the one character I had the most difficulty comprehending in regard to his purpose within this production. Having written plays for the stage I always try to make sure every character is robust and needed in the script. For the BEE’s book, this character is just not fully fleshed out. While there was an explanation as to who his character was for this script I still felt somewhat awkward with this additional cast personnel. I would have a stage exit for the contestants to be a moment with Rona or VP Panch. However, the script has Mahoney’s character assigned with this task. I felt Sinclair did a wonderful job in his role. His onstage presence, between his portions of dialogue, was engaging and never out of character. Freeman nonetheless provided solid, good work.
Leaf Coneybear played by Darin Martin was a crowd favorite. With the juggling of different characters, and the required energy needed to pull off these roles evenly well, he succeeded so well and I enjoyed his characterization.
Finally, VP Douglas Panch played by Steven D. Morris was spot on with his role, temperament, and backstory references. I enjoyed this character.
Never breaking character was a theme throughout for every cast member. They were in their character and brought energy when needed. Great job everyone!
The choreography by Leslie Jones and the staging by director Micah Green were well thought out and used the proscenium space. Not a bad seat in the house for sight lines.
I loved the simplistic set where everything had its place and it felt like a school gym.
The costuming was very believable and worked well with each cast person and the setting.
I enjoyed the live band being off stage. Sometimes when the musicians are in sight they can be distracting. In this case, they were able to be heard well and did not take away from movement on the stage.
You know a musical is well done when all the technical aspects are mastered. This allows for the audience to enjoy the production and the senses are not overburdened. Great job for all aspects of tech - team and crew!
Overall, I very much enjoyed this production and would highly recommend those who haven’t seen it to do so. The audience was engaged throughout and everyone was having a good time.
The only thing lacking was the run of the show on or in the playbill. I had to visit the website to find this information. Maybe that was intended because you are right there to get tickets. This is must-see.
Theatre Arlington, www.theatrearlington.org 817-275-7661