The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was, in a word, HILARIOUS. I’ve been to every play since freshman year (I’m now a second-semester sophomore) and this was honestly the best one I’ve seen. From the wonderful vocals to Dr. Casey being dragged into dance numbers on stage, this was the kind of wild, fun, ridiculous play that I won’t forget.
Putnam revolves around a collection of kids competing in a spelling bee for their own individual reasons. Logainne (junior Samantha Arana) competes to earn praise from her demanding dads who have been training her to win at any cost. Leaf (senior Najee Banks) hopes to prove wrong the bullies who have insulted his intelligence for as long as he can remember, and Chip (sophomore Jehan Silva) strives to overcome a particularly hard moment in his life.
The aesthetics of the play were more than eye-catching: the set was decorated in bright yellows and blues, and the characters’ clothes were reminiscent of crazy 90’s regalia: denim overalls, bright pink stockings, green blazers.
The cast chose four audience members before the play to “compete” in the spelling bee (with the judges throwing out words like “cow” and “zuzu,” to the irritation of the other contestants, who had to spell much harder words). Dr. Casey and Dean Lisa Breslin were among those chosen, going out in a blaze of glory whenever the judges gave them an absurd word to spell.
The live music was a nice surprise and the singers were all phenomenal. Tim Eichelberger, who played Vice Principle Panch, had an amazing voice that was pitifully underused. My only problem with the vocals was the static that emitted from the microphones on stage throughout the play — it tried to kill a few moments, but the actors always recovered.
I highly recommend Putnam. If you’re looking for something to do tonight or Saturday night and you want some laughs and maybe a chance to compete in the bee (and candy!), head out to the remaining shows, which run Mar. 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Alumni Hall.