Editor’s note: Ok, it’s more like an Editor’s Confession. We saw it. Sneaked into a tech rehearsal Sunday night (March 11) before leaving for Chile. (And turning over the day to day of Telluride Inside… and Out to Jim Berkowitz, Jesse McTigue and Emily Shoff.) Suzanne Cheavens will be writing the official TIO review, but here’s my bottom line. To Bee or not To Bee, that is not the question. Not To Bee is the dramatic equivalent of missing a powder morning after a long dry spell. Or passing on a backstage pass (with beer privileges) to Telluride Bluegrass. Unheard of, right? Getting my drift? The good news begins with Sasha’s choice of the play – with a little help from her talented friends, Jen Julia of Sheridan Arts Foundation’s Young People’s Theatre and Bobbie Shaffer of just about every musical you’ve ever seen in town. “Spelling Bee” has low production outlays, but high impact: pulls at your heart strings while tickling your funny bone. Humanistic and witty? The best of two worlds. The next thing Sasha did right was the casting. This group of character actors delivers some of the best performances you have ever seen on a Telluride stage: familiar faces and new, they can clown and sing with the best of them. Brought to mind the early days of The REP and, well, the past five years of SquidShow. I leave the specifics to Suzanne. I say in conclusion:”Spelling Bee” is a letter perfect send-up. Wave your geek banner on high and get the buzz machine rolling.
Meet Logainne Schwartandgrubenierre. And she is not alone. (Geeks tend to emerge in clusters. Like acne.)
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is about an unlikely group of heroes: overachieving nerds vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime.
One of Logainne’s team members is William Barfee. He is saddled with a chronic sinus condition and a last name that invites trouble. (It is suppose to rhyme with parfait but in common use – very common use – generally doesn’t.) William believes he looks sharp as a tack in shorts. Not. There’s Marcy Park. She is all down-in-the-mouth about her over-the-top ability. But who gives a hoot in heck about speaking six languages if that doesn’t land you a date?
Their opponents are also, not surprisingly, outsiders. Olive Ostrovsky is mousy. Leaf Coneybear wears a permanent blush. Chip Tolentino is a Boy Scout with a badge for raging testosterone.
No one gets a letter sweater for winning a spelling bee. Or the crown of a homecoming queen or king. But it’s something. Which is better than nothing. And it’s the little things that count in most lives. (Except that in this world, this crowd goes on to start companies like Facebook.)
Telluride Theatre is bringing back the great tradition of a Telluride spring musical by presenting the Tony-winning Broadway show. “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is being performed for the first time in Telluride. Shows at the Michael D. Palm Theater are Thursday, March 15 – Tuesday, March 20, 7:30 p.m.
Sasha Cucciniello directs. Ethan Hale is Musical Director. Bobbie Schaffer accompanies the cast on piano, which includes Stewart Barbour, Taylor Clay, Elissa Dickson, Elizabeth Forsythe, Ethan Hale, Meghann McCormick, Anna Robinson, Meghan Rood, Tom Shane, Colin Sullivan, Emma Walker-Silverman and Jimmy Wilson.
“The cast of talented locals we assembled is astounding. I was amazed by the vocal ability that we found for the show,” said Sasha.
To learn more about this lollipop of a musical diversion, click the “play” button and listen to what else Sasha has to say.