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Damascus Theatre Company The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

By • Feb 8th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Damascus Theatre Company
Gaithersburg Arts Barn, Gaithersburg, MD
Through February 20th
1:50 with one intermission
$18/$16 Gaithersburg Residents
Reviewed February 6th, 2011

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a musical with music and lyrics by William Finn. Book by Rachel Sheinkin and conceived by Rachel Sheinkin. Follow the tension and excitement as Putnam County middle school students gather for the silver anniversary of the spelling bee. The students are a hodgepodge of personalities, all with their own insecurities and issues. Although The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee sound like a family show, it contains some adult material that actually may not be suitable for students under age 13.

As a whole, this was a very enjoyable production. The actors were quite believable in their roles as middle school student spelling bee contestants, allowed their quirks to define them, but growing in strength as the bee continued. The adults had their own quirks, but were definitely overshadowed by the students.

Chrissy Barnett Miller as Olive Ostrovosky played a young girl well. She seemed eager to please anyone and everyone. Angry Marcy Park played by Kim Frias was an angry young girl whose crusade to be perfect led to pursue a new direction. Frias was a strong dancer and determined singer. The award for longest name and least traditional family goes to Katrina Janson who played Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre. Janson created a character with the awkwardness of a child as well as the insecurity of her place in life. Janson actually created the most empathy with her character. Along with the three girls there were also three boys who gave equally acceptable performances. William Barfee (Alden Michels) was extremely self confident and sure of himself. Michels had a range that was somewhat inconsistent, but made up for it with his arrogance. Gabriel Potter played Leaf Conneybear. Although not the smartest cookie in the jar, Potter played a kid who enjoyed life and was pretty easy going. Chip Tolentino (Doe B. Kim) was a young man who may be growing up too fast and was not quite ready for it. In most ways he was a typical adolescent. Perhaps not the strongest singer, but he was able to blend well with the rest of the ensemble.

The adults were represented by former winner turned real estate broker Rona Lisa Peretti played by Kathleen Richards. Richards presented a no nonsense air and seemed to truly have a love for the “Bee.” Comfort Counselor Mitch Mahoney played by Carl Williams played his part with little comfort, but had the juice box at the ready everytime. His projection was a little uneven, but he had a good trio with Olive and Peretti when he sang the “I Love You Song” in the second act. It was touching and Carl seemed sincere in his delivery. Vice Principal Douglas Panch played by Jason Damaso had some great facial expressions when giving out the spelling bee words. Not sure if there was any improvising in the delivery, but Damaso seemed comfortable with his charcter and his role as vice principal.

The set for Spelling Bee was cool. In the small space at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn you have to be creative with the use of the space and Damascus Theatre Company managed to turn the space into a usable gym. Set Designer and director Stephanie Bonte-Lebair included bleacher seats, a basketball net and a climbing rope. The costumes by Sharon Rea and the cast were young looking for the “kids” and modest for the adults. It gave a very nice contrast between the two groups.

Also note that if you can arrive to the Arts Barn early, you may be chosen to be a contestant in the Spelling Bee. The three contestants we saw compete were very good sports, joining in on the dancing and spelling. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was a fun show, but actually not for kids.

Photo Gallery

Spelling Bee contestant Olive (played by Chrissy Barnett Miller) takes her turn. Also pictured, Kim Frias, Alden Michels, Katrina Janson,and Doe Kim. The cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee sings the opening number.
Spelling Bee contestant Olive (played by Chrissy Barnett Miller) takes her turn. Also pictured, Kim Frias, Alden Michels, Katrina Janson,and Doe Kim.
The cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee sings the opening number. Pictured: Chrissy Barnett Miller, Alden Michels, Kim Frias, Katrina Janson, Doe Kim, Gabriel Potter, and Katheen Richards.
Spelling Bee contestant William Barfee (played by Alden Michels) shows school officials his 'magic foot.' Also pictured are Carl Williams, Kathleen Richards, and Jason Damaso.
Spelling Bee contestant William Barfee (played by Alden Michels) shows school officials his “Magic Foot”. Also pictured are Carl Williams, Kathleen Richards, and Jason Damaso.

Photos by Elli Swink.

Cast

  • Rona Lisa Peretti: Kathleen Richards
  • Mitch Mahoney: Carl Williams
  • Vice Principal Douglas Panch: Jason Damaso
  • Olive Ostrovosky: Chrissy Barnett Miller
  • Marcy Park: Kim Frias
  • Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre: Katrina Janson
  • William Barfee: Alden Michels
  • Leaf Coneybear: Gabriel Potter
  • Chip Tolentino: Doe. B. Kim
  • Mascot: Megan May

Crew

  • Director: Stephanie Bonte-Lebair
  • Co-Producers: Elli Swink & Celia Blitzer
  • Musical Director: Keith Tittermary
  • Choreographer: Stephanie Miller
  • Technical Director/Lighting Design: Rick Swink
  • Assistant to the Director: Megan May
  • Sound Design/Light Board Operator: Vitol Wiacek
  • Set Design: Stephanie Bonte-Lebair
  • Master Carpenters/Set Construction: Jim Korte & Bill Lebair
  • Set Painting: Jim Korte
  • Costumes: Sharon Rea & Cast
  • Hair & Makeup: The Cast
  • Properties: Elli Swink
  • PR: Elissa Borzilleri
  • Tech Crew: Jim Korte, Bill Lebair, Rachel Styles

Orchestra

  • Piano: Keith Tittermary
  • Reeds: Jackie Miller, Chris Condon
  • Drums: Claudio Ferreira

Disclaimer: Damascus Theatre Company provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/6171.

started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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