Local residents are in for a treat this week as E.L Crossley students will open their production of the tony award winning musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” on Saturday, May 2.
The play is about an eclectic group of students who vie for the Putnam County spelling bee championship. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home life, the tweens spell their way through a series of words hoping to never hear the soul crushing, pout inducing, life un-affirming “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling mistake.
The show has a number of elements that diverge from the traditional form of a high school production, and will offer this year’s audience members something unique.
“I chose it because it had an element of improvisation to it,” said Jennifer Benson, the show’s director. “We have an improve club here, and it made sense to choose something where that club could lend itself to the musical.”
The show was originally developed through improvisation, and over years of workshopping was eventually put together as a Broadway show. This atypical origin lends itself to a production that often breaks the mold for conventional high school performances. “It’s really quite phenomenal, it even incorporates audience volunteers,” said Benson. “It’s funny and charming, and full of lots of great one-liners that are really brought to the forefront by the improv component.”
The cast is made up of a number of talented students who have been working diligently on their roles for months. Kolden Collie, who recently won the DSBN Child Monologue Competition and hopes to make a career out of acting, was one of many students who pushed to make this production a reality. “We talked all last year and the start of this year to try and get this put together,” he said.
All that persistence paid off. “I get to play the character of Leaf Coneybear. He’s homeschooled so he’s never been to a high school before. You get to see him grow and develop a sense of self assurance and respect.”
The dimensionality of each character is something that all of the young actors appreciate. Max Casson caught the acting bug at the tender age of six while performing in church musicals, and plays Olive Ostrovsky in this production. “My character is very awkward and very sad,” she said. “There’s a lot of depth to this character.”
The heart of the show, however, remains its quirky charm and the many funny moments peppered throughout. “It is a little irreverent, a little rough around the edges,” said Benson, “but I think it forces us to find humour in things we sometimes get too serious about.”
The show will be performed on Sat. May 2nd, Fri. May 8 and Sat May 9th at 7:30pm. Tickets are $15 each and can be purchased by contacting the school at 905-892-2635 or by emailing[email protected] and can be picked up the night of the performance at the Will Call. Tickets can also be purchased for cash at the Town of Pelham Municipal office.