Reston Community Players The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling BeeBy Laura & Mike Clark • Mar 10th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Reston Community Players
Reston Community Players, Reston, VA
Through March 26th
2 hours without intermission
$21/$18 Seniors and Students
Reviewed March 4th, 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 sounds like a family show, it contains some adult material that actually may not be suitable for students under age 13.
Chip Tolentino, the boy scout, was played by Terry Barr, Although at times a bit hard to hear, Barr exuded that awkward early teenager charm as he became aware of his body and all it can do. He played his role convincingly. Also quiet yet believable was Mitch Mahoney, the “Comfort Counselor” was played by Christopher DeRoche. His character was more mature and he was able to play his role in such a way that set him apart as an older guy from the rest of the “kids”. In some of his songs, DeRoche was did not have as commanding a presence as his character should have had. Marcy Park, the overachieving go getter was played by Evie Korovesis. Able to be a perfectionist, Korovesis showed off her arrogance and perfection through the song “Six Languages” until it proved to be too much and she found true happiness in being second best. Evie, like all of the girls, could be heard without any trouble throughout the performance.
Both Olive Ostrovsky (Kate Roehr) and Logainne Schwartzandgrubienne (Jaclyn Young) were great and struggled the most with acceptance. Olive’s mother was in another country and her father from her comments was obviously a work-a-holic. Poor sweet Olive just wanted to be loved and have her father show up. Unlike Olive’s absent parents, Logainne had possibly too many parents. Logainne had two fathers who were contstantly pushing her to win. Always a fighter for justice despite her circumstances, Young also fought for love by doing what was right. She had kind of a tom boyishness about her combined with a loud voice and dexterity that made her a lot of fun to watch.
Olive did manage to finally make a friend in nerdy William Barfee. His “magic foot” served him well. He was played by Nathan Tatro and like the rest of the cast was able to play the nerdy special smart kid convincingly. He and Olive did a neat dance number as they explored their relationship. But the most hilarious was Leaf Coneybear played by the versatile Ryan Manning. He was such a cut up and so very funny. Like Young, Manning’s big over the top gestures and exaggerated faces and movements were just hysterical and almost brought the house down. He was the best big little kid to hit the stage in a long time. He had all the characteristics down.
The two adults, Rona Lisa Peretti and Vice Principal Douglass Panch did the best they could to keep the Bee together. Peretti played by Jennifer Lambert was all about the Bee and what it stood for. Her smooth singsong voice carried all over the gymnasium. Although a minor character, Panch, played by Tom Flatt had the role that was crucial to keeping order in the chaos. His somber voice was clerly heard when giving out not only the spelling word, but also all the other comments that went along with it.
Director Blakeman Brophy’s pacing was at times uneven. Sometimes the contestant would get all the way to the microphone before the word would be given and at other times Ms. Peretti would be giving a “fun fact” about the contestant to the audience while they were on their way up to the microphone. Using this second technique kept things moving much better. There was another time when the spellers were dancing in a circle spelling words rapidly until everyone returned to their seats except one person, making it obvious who was to be the next speller to be eliminated.
Set Designer James Villarubia turned the stage into a fairly realistic gymnasium. Using bright colors the Set Painting Crew (Sarah Crawford, Reeny Eul, Eileen Mullee, and Ryan Desmond) helped to create a look and feel of youth. Lighting Designer Ryan Desmond continued using light that helped maintain the feeling of youthfulness and spotlighters Melissa Tilley and Rich Claar were “spot on” (pardon the pun) of helping the actors find their light. Mucic director Elisa Rosman and the rest of the orchestra performed the lively music with gusto.
A fun show with more adult themes than you would think combined with a good opening night audience made for a pleasant evening.
Photo by Joe Douglass.
- Chip Tolentino: Terry Barr
- Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere: Jaclyn Young
- Leaf Coneybear: Ryan Manning
- William Barfee: Nathan Tatro
- Mitch Mahoney: Christopher DeRoche
- Olive Ostrovsky: Kate Roehr
- Marcy Park: Evie Korovesis
- Rona Lisa Peretti: Jennifer Lambert
- Douglas Panch: Tom Flatt
- Piano/Conductor: Elisa Rosman
- Keyboard: J. Mihael D’Haviland
- Reeds: Mitch Bassman
- Cello: Kevin Uleck
- Drums: Matt Robotham
- Director: Blakeman Brophy
- Musical Director: Elisa Rosman
- Properties Design: Mary Jo Ford
- Set Designer: James Villarubia
- Co-Sound Designers: Anna Hawkins & Rich Claar
- Co-Producers: Eileen Mullee & Amy Frank
- Choreographer: Mark Hildago
- Lighting Designer: Ryan Desmond
- Costume Designer: Megan Holeva
- Hair & Makeup Designer: Jaclyn Young
- Assistant Director: Mark Hildago
- Stage Manager: Amy Frank
- Master Carpenter: James Villarubia
- Master Electrician, Assistant Lighting Designer: Ian Claar
- Properties Mistress: Clara Eder
- Set Dressing: James Villarubia
- Stage Combat choreographer: Ka ren Schlumpf
- Running Crew Chief: Jeff Bumgardner
- Flyman: Laura Baughman
- Set Construction Crew: Jennelle Root, Sarah Crawford, Lisa Harbin, Eileen Mullee
- Scenic Artist: James Villarubia
- Set Painting: Sarah Crawford, Reeny Eul, Eileen Mullee, Ryan Desmond
- Running Crew: Jason Willett, Laura Baughman, Tomas Huntley, David Johnson
- Spotlight Operators: Melissa Tilley, Rich Claar
- Move In: Rick Schneider
- Photographer: Joe Douglass
- Showbill: Ginger Kohles
- Sign Language Interpreters: Quercus Consulting, LLC
Disclaimer: Reston Community Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. RCP purchased advertising from ShowBizRadio.net, which did not influence this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/6288.
Laura & Mike Clark 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.